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Paperback Voss Book

ISBN: 0140014381

ISBN13: 9780140014389


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Book Overview

Join J. M. Coetzee and Thomas Keneally in rediscovering Nobel Laureate Patrick White In 1973, Australian writer Patrick White was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature "for an epic and psychological... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Voss: journeys of exploration

This novel opens in Sydney, 1845, with the German explorer Voss preparing to cross the Australian continent. This physical aspect of the novel is loosely based on the ill-fated expedition of Ludwig Leichhardt. Prior to leaving Sydney, Voss meets Laura Trevelyan. Laura is the niece of one of Voss's patrons and is perhaps the only person apart from Voss himself who perceives that his journey is a challenge of will as much as a geographical journey of discovery. Voss and Laura, despite only meeting four times before he departs, form a spiritual bond which strengthens during the course of the novel. The novel is about discovery, about triumph and about failure. The physical elements of the journey describe many of the challenges facing explorers within central Australia at the time and combines elements of human suffering and religious metaphor. The intense relationship between Laura and Voss develops during the course of the journey, and is conducted both through letter and telepathy. This novel can be read as a simple story of an ill-fated expedition. Alternatively, it can be read as one man's challenge to the physical world, and of the good and evil in each of us. By the end of the novel, the discovery seems clear, the triumphs and the failures are obvious. Or are they? Perhaps it depends on which viewpoint you choose to adopt. I recommend this novel to anyone who wants to read well written literature which, under the guise of telling a story, invites the readers to confront their own thinking. The choice is yours. Jennifer Cameron-Smith

Cardboard Characters Set In The Australian Frontier, But Excellent Prose

Patrick White gained fame as the Australian Nobel prize winner in literature, and as a person with a prickly or what some call a difficult personality. He was educated at Cambridge but then settled and wrote in Australia after World War II. He has about a dozen novels and I have read two of them, the other being The Tree of Man which is set in rural but agricultural Australia, not in the Outback as is Voss. This is a good novel, and it deserves 5 stars. After a dozen pages or so it becomes clear to the reader that White has an unusual style and he is a gifted writer. There is no question about his writing ability. This particular story starts off in Sydney in the mid-19th century, and White uses real street names and locations in central Sydney, just east of Darling Harbour. Since the same streets still exist today, his setting and references to the city bring a high degree of realism to the story. The plot is about a man and a woman who become engaged by mail after meeting. Voss is the man, and he leads a voyage of discovery into the Outback, north and west of Sydney. The plot involves the hardships of the trip, the interaction among the characters travelling with Voss, the natives, and what takes place in Sydney with his fiancee while Voss is away on the trip. The discouraging feature of White's writing is that the characters seem stiff or cardboard, a bit lifeless. Voss is not a man to show much emotion or talk. So, there are many passages where White simply describes the activities. That gives the book - especially in the middle - a dry feel. This was reinforced for me when I read The Tree of Man where White has a similar strong male protagonist, the farmer; but there, White goes into much more depth with the man's personality in the novel. The tale has a strong and a surprise ending, and the novel picks up as the story closes. Overall, I enjoyed the read and would recommend the book. It is not a quick read nor is it compelling stuff to digest, but it is an interesting and well written novel.

Tragic and unforgettable

This is a deeply sad story of tragic love in Australia's colonial times. Voss, "The German" and Laura, a young Sydney woman, are societal misfits who meet quite awkwardly in drawing room one day. Soon after this meeting, Voss begins his epic journey into the unknown Australian outback. As the journey progresses he realizes his love for Laura and writes her a letter asking for her hand in marriage. She accepts his proposal and a love affair of the minds begins. More letters are written but never received by either party. Amazingly, their love blossoms for each other in a small minded, petty, and class driven society. Sadly, in the end their love is tragically never to be.I found this book to be extremely well written and deeply moving. I believe that this novel is on par with Bronte's Jane Eyre and I do not understand why it is not on any classical reading lists. There are parts of the book that move somewhat slowly, but each part has its purpose in bringing you deeper into the story. The insights into the human soul are incredibly poignant. If you do decide to give Voss a chance read it slowly and in quite spaces. Soak up the meanings within the writing and enjoy this sad, sad tale.

Life's a Desert

The poetically writhing words of Patrick White's Voss imbue the novel's inanimate world with a life commonly attributed to humankind alone: darkness strangles, the sun cauterizes, leaves slash at one another, rain sighs, and dawn shrieks with jubilation as red light flows out along the veins of morning. Such anthropomorphizing imagery reinforces a view of the protagonist's voyage of discovery into Australia's heart as a metaphor for the inner journey beckoning us all.Few, however, much less those seeking consolation in worldly achievements and society's pretensions, dare venture into the uncharted desert that illumines the soul. Johann Ulrich Voss, a proud, resilient and fiercely independent German with the first touches of grey in his beard, is obsessed by a long-held ambition to cross the immense island-continent. To this misanthrope possessed of seemingly unshakeable belief in his own divinity, the future is nothing but will, its antithesis compassion, grace, humility, repentance, human frailty.Before escaping the strictures of Victorian Sydney, by chance he meets his sponsor's niece, Laura Trevelyan, a sensitive young woman vacillating in the darkness between atheism and faith, rationalism and God, pride and humility. Despite their few encounters, when the explorer leads his expedition up the coast and turns one morning to follow his shadow into the searing unknown, he is embarking on a voyage leading ever more deeply into an inescapable love between Laura - the feminine side of his Jungian subconscious - and himself.Their mystical journey together, stripped bare of obfuscating flesh by the tyranny of distance, penetrates into a vast land. As unforgiving as the outback, this unfamiliar realm is governed by an irrationality that confounds human plans and perceptions, and erodes hubris and obstinate self-belief. United by a love born high above the expedience of mundane coupledom, as their physical separation increases, and long after correspondence by letter has become impossible, they draw ever closer. It is testament to the author's imaginative powers and his skill as a novelist that their transcendent union, despite the hundreds of miles between them, is consummated with a wedding and newborn child.Without marching towards one's own destruction, there can be no humility and therefore no love. Voss and his small party are gradually worn down over the months by the rigours of their journey and the hidden allegiances unearthed by their tribulations. Laura's love, burning with anxious awareness of the leader's fallibility, spreads into the fissures appearing in his beleaguered resolve, prising cracks still wider in a series of dreams shattering erstwhile convictions. In striving to cross these landscapes of land and love, in which all are destined to suffer and fail, the human soul is ultimately liberated to return into a God omnipresent in the very physicality of the earthly environment itself.Who hasn't rejoiced before a field, a river, an ex

A Classic Title from a Classic Author

White has done it again: rich characters, indulgent language play, fascinating setting, gentle Australian imagry and beautifully balanced overall. For it's elegance and surprises, this book belongs in the poetry section. If you've a fan of White, this is his masterpiece; if you're new to White, what took you so long?
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