The Art of Patrick White’s Fiction
|Course||English Language and Literature|
|Keywords||Patrick White The art of the novel A collection of short stories Australia Novel Narrative strategy Narrative structure Realism style Syntactic structure Free indirect discourse|
Patrick White, the first Australian writer who won Nobel Prize for Literature, is a modernist writer, whose fiction brims with formal innovations. His fiction is marked by an inclination towards poeticization. Because of this, readers find it difficult to understand what he attempts to say in his fiction. His poetic language and creative narrative strategies construct a continuous literary protest against the materialism and dreariness of Henry Lawson’s realist tradition, and a good understanding of his works requires both attention and effort on the part of the reader. This thesis intends to anatomize the art of Patrick White’s fiction on the basis of my own reading of his two collections of short stories and novellas-The Burnt Ones and The Cockatoos. It is argued that understanding White’s short fictions will shed light on the formal features of his novels at large.The thesis is divided into four parts. Part One briefly introduces Patrick White as a modernist writer whose fiction displays a combination of poetic language and innovative narrative strategies. Part Two deals with his irregularity and unconventionality in the use of diction and syntax in detail, in which ingenuity of poetic and iconic diction, and dissolvement of the rules of syntactic logic work together for achieving his purpose of defamiliarization or foregrounding. Besides, while a heavy use of rhetorical figures such as symbols and metaphors also serves to give his fiction an appeal, it also makes his fiction more difficult to read. Part Three examines White’s narrative strategies which share much of originality with modernist writers in England and America. White shows a special preference for presenting his narrative events from a multiple character point of view. The third person limited point of view is widely used by White in an attempt to depict his characters’ inner world. As far as narrative structure is concerned, he breaks away from Aristotle’s perception of plot sequence and opts for an elliptical structure that appears disorderly and plotless. He also frequently employs stream-of-consciousness (interior monologue and free indirect style) for the presentation of his characters’ inner world. The thesis concludes by suggesting that White’s unique style of language and narrative combines with a consistent focus on Australian life to make White’s fiction seem very obscure indeed.