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The development of the theme of suffering and redemption in the novels of Patrick White


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Bernard, Ruth 1965 , 'The development of the theme of suffering and redemption in the novels of Patrick White', Unspecified thesis, University of Tasmania.

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There is a remarkable continuity and coherence of
thought in the work of Patrick White. In this thesis,
an attempt has been made to show the development of the
underlying and recurring theme of suffering leading,
ultimately, to redemption. It has been possible to
trace a clear progression from the nihilism expressed
in the first two books to a positive avowal of faith in
the later and more mature novels. This seems to
reflect a personal development in the author during the
years 1939 to 1961, and, for this reason, his work has
been treated chronologically.
In chapters I and II, dealing with Happy Valley and
The Living and the Dead, the suffering of the main
characters is shown to reflect a sense of hopelessness
and despair at the inevitable loneliness of man and at
the futility of life itself. The Aunt's Story, discussed
in chapter III, contains a more positive statement that
truth is revealed to those who suffer; however, as
revelation and peace seem attainable only in madness, the
implicit hopefulness of The Aunt's Story remains
questionable. There is a decisive change in the next book and this has been noted in chapter IV. In The Tree
of Man, there is a very real attempt to see life in
broader terms and to transform suffering into a beneficent
experience, leading to humility and serenity. Humility
is the key-word to Voss and the redemptive theme
culminates in Riders in the Chariot. The author's
concepts of humility, of good and evil, of revelation and
redemption, are examined in chapters V and VI.
Throughout, the imagery used by Patrick White, his
symbolism, his mysticism, his predilection for the simple
and simple-minded, even the mad, his violent reaction
against the ugly manifestations of this "plastic" age and
its dehumanising effect on people, his use of irony and
social satire, are related to his central theme. The
theme itself is, fundamentally, religious: Patrick White
proclaims his belief that, by striving and suffering, man
is redeemable.

Item Type: Thesis - Unspecified
Authors/Creators:Bernard, Ruth
Keywords: White, Patrick, 1912-1990
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1965 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (M.A.) - University of Tasmania, 1966. Includes bibliography

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