Introducing the Patrick White ‘Voss’ Read Along

Patrick White Read AlongPatrick White is Australia’s only recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature, which he received in 1973. At that time his body of work included nine novels, one short story collection, many poems and several plays. He went on to write very many more works (a total of 12 novels, three short story collections and eight plays) before his death, in 1990, aged 78.

He is widely regarded as one of the most important English-language novelists of the 20th century.

I have read three of his books — The Tree of Man, The Vivisector and The Solid Mandala (the latter two have been reviewed on this site) — and have found them enjoyable and rewarding, if somewhat challenging.

I have several more of his novels in my TBR, so when Tony, who blogs at Messenger’s Booker, suggested a read along, I put up my hand to take part.

Voss by Patrick WhiteThe book we will be reading is White’s Voss, which won the inaugural Miles Franklin Literary Award in 1957.

The British critic Robert McCrum, who named it on The Guardian’s 100 Best Novels, describes it as a “monumental novel” with “an archetypal power”.

The blurb on the back of my Vintage Classics edition (pictured), published in 1994, describes the story as such:

Set in nineteenth-century Australia, Voss is the story of the secret passion between an explorer and a naive young woman. Although they have met only a few times, Voss and Laura are joined by overwhelming, obsessive feelings for each other. Voss sets out to cross the continent, and as hardships, mutiny and betrayal whittle away his power to endure and to lead, his attachment to Laura gradually increases. Laura, waiting in Sydney, moves through the months of separation as if they were a dream and Voss the only reality.

The read along runs throughout March and several of us have agreed to do it —  Stu, who blogs at Winston’s Dad; Grant, who blogs at 1st Reading; and me — but you are welcome to join in. Indeed, the more the merrier. You don’t need a blog, you don’t need to write a review; just read along with us and join in any discussions on our blogs or on Twitter.

You can read more about the initiative at Tony’s blog.

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18 thoughts on “Introducing the Patrick White ‘Voss’ Read Along

  1. Happy reading! Voss is not my favourite of White’s novels, but it’s the one I know and remember best. (Probably because I wrote what one commentator called ‘a treatise’ about it on my blog!)

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  2. I’ve been wanting to reread Voss for some time. I read it in grade 11 and loved it. The Tree of Man was a grade 12 work but didn’t like that as much – I think it was a more difficult read. I read most of his others as they were released. I just looked at some of the hardback copies I have and they were printed in Britain! When did they stop that? Anyway, will join you on this Read Along.

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  3. I did an Australian literature MOOC last year and one of the books featured was Voss. I have since acquired a copy. It sounds like a good time to read it.

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        • When you do one of those courses do you get a certificate or anything? Am fascinated by them… think I need to do a web coding one or something…

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          • You can do it for free or you can pay for a certificate – they are not very expensive. I’ve done quite a few, mostly for professional development, but a couple just for fun.

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  4. I love love love Voss – did it for Year 12 and got right into it. I wrote a little about a Voss Journey event on my blog a few years ago. I’d love to join in but I think my commitments are too much at present. (I love The solid mandala too – one of the few books, besides Austen, that I’ve read twice).

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    • Glenda did it in Year 12 too (see above!) Good to hear your enthusiasm for it; makes me more keen to get stuck in. I, too, loved the Solid Mandala… such an intriguing look at twins!

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  5. Patrick White sounds like an author I should get to know! And the premise of Voss sounds promising. I’ll follow along, even if I don’t read along. Have fun!

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  6. I wanted to do this, even going so far as to buy a copy, but the Man Booker International Prize long list got in the way. Not all is lost; I will save it for the summer, and I’m glad to know even more about it from your post.

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    • It’s quite a dense read; you really need to devote large chunks of time to it. I’ve got distracted by Stella Prize shortlist reading but hope to get back to it this weekend: I’ve got about 100 pages left.

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