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Patrick White s 1957 novel I found to be an immensely challenging read, not what I was expecting, and I am still unclear whether my scoring is accurate, going by my first thoughts on completion, I think it s just about right, thinking a little deeper over the coming days it may well change The story itself was certainly a case of substance over style, which as it turned out, was one of it s big strengths, and White s sentencing had a purposeful way of switching between brisk flashes of brillian Patrick White s 1957 novel I found to be an immensely challenging read, not what I was expecting, and I am still unclear whether my scoring is accurate, going by my first thoughts on completion, I think it s just about right, thinking a little deeper over the coming days it may well change The story itself was certainly a case of substance over style, which as it turned out, was one of it s big strengths, and White s sentencing had a purposeful way of switching between brisk flashes of brilliance, whilst also drawing out scenarios that seem to take off wistfully, and glide over the never ending landscapes In a nutshell, Voss I would say is a combination of metaphysical drama and love story overseeing a harsh historical adventure into the unknown The characters and events are meticulously orchestrated with a skill of precision, and it s 1845 setting really captures the time Neither the explorers featured in the novel, nor myself, the reader, could have been prepared for the journey aheadWhite predominantly focuses on two characters Johann Ulrich Voss, a German explorer who challenges himself with the help of small band of others to partake in an expedition crossing the Australian continent, and Laura Trevelyan, a young, slightly naive, but lovely orphan who recently arrived in New South Wales Voss and Laura would meet for the first time in the house of Laura s uncle Mr Bonner the patron of Voss s expedition Theirs is a complex relationship, and they are bonded by not the close warmth and tenderness of each other, but with a mutual obsession based on separation, which, as time passes, grows greater the further they are apart After the first third sets the scene, the rest of the novel alternates between Voss s adventure and Laura s life at home.Although Voss is the one traveling great distances, both are on a journey of not just self discovery, but also self realization White looks at the Australian outback, just as many would see it, a dangerous, overwhelmingly hot landscape, where what could go wrong, generally does, whether that be with man or beast, and when the party is split in two, a sense of oblivion and doom takes hold For those who have read it, will know there is moment late on that really did send my jaw dropping towards the floor, something I just didn t think would happen, but it did Although the novel draws heavily on the complex ways of Voss, it was difficult to always like him Whereas the time spent with Laura will stay with me the most, I found her really quite moving, and could have easily read a novel solely about her She would live for the rare letters received from the expedition, whilst also writing them herself to travel the other way, to others there is no inkling that she is in love, she senses disaster the longer time goes on, and ultimately accepts a future of unwedded, unhappy, widowhood, this after seeing her adopt a baby she cannot keep, getting really sick with a dangerous fever, and watching her cousin wed, whilst she ponders the long lost Voss I just wanted to give her a great big hug, I probably wouldn t want to let go.It didn t strike me at first, but Patrick White does use religion as an extensive symbolism, there is often the reference of God, Christ or the Devil, a meeting in a garden prior to departure Garden of Eden , Voss, leader of men walking though the desert, tending to the sick, a man of non violence, a God to some, the devil to others Both Voss and Laura seem to communicate through visions, whether this could be seen as dreams, disorientation or actual, it s about as remote as romance gets, but still, helped in keeping each other close by I don t think I have fully grasped White s achievement with this book, to deem it a masterpiece, may have to read again, in as little time as possible, it probably does require some longer reading sessions that I just couldn t give it, breaking up the pattern, but it was still, unquestionably, a mighty fine piece of writing that is still fluttering around inside my head, yet to find a way out Patrick White, the 20th century Australian Nobel Prize in Literature winner, published Voss in 1957 A quintessentially modernist novel, it defies easy description Set in colonial Australia, its plot is complex and its exploration of psychological issues and depths is multi layered The fundamental plot is quickly told The community of Europeans clustering in and around Sydney is intrigued by the arrival of Voss, a German explorer intent on crossing the continent for the first time During his Patrick White, the 20th century Australian Nobel Prize in Literature winner, published Voss in 1957 A quintessentially modernist novel, it defies easy description Set in colonial Australia, its plot is complex and its exploration of psychological issues and depths is multi layered The fundamental plot is quickly told The community of Europeans clustering in and around Sydney is intrigued by the arrival of Voss, a German explorer intent on crossing the continent for the first time During his brief time in Sydney Voss meets and talks on a couple of occasions with Laura Trevelyan, a young woman, orphaned, who has been raised by her aunt and uncle, the Bonners Voss and Laura establish a sort of spiritual bond that grows after Voss leaves on his expedition, the twin plots of his journey and the lives of those back in Sydney playing themselves out over the rest of the novel.Voss is an enigmatic figure, arrogant and isolated, whose motives in making his expedition are never entirely clear The very makeup of his party is foisted upon him by his colonial sponsors, it being clear that he would prefer to travel alone He chafes under the realization that he has become a Romantic project of the colonials, and he remains spiritually aloof throughout the novel Laura is likewise isolated from her society she is a woman with intellectual aspirations and social insights out of step with the limited possibilities open to her, and she remains a figure who never quite fits it Soon after the start of Voss s expedition, he and Laura exchange letters affirming their deepening relationship, and they come to view each other as husband and wife even though most of their letters go astray and are never received by the addressee In fact, their relationship, to the extent that it can be viewed as mutual, develops and blossoms primarily through the dreams, imaginings, and hallucinations that each experiences.The colonial community in Sydney is rather homogeneous, circumscribed by conventions, mutual expectations, and the shared sense of being an isolated outpost clinging to the edge of a continent and universe alien, forbidding, and mysterious A few characters within Laura s awareness are clearly delineated, but they seem narrow in imagination and awareness Voss s crew, on the other hand, consists of less than a dozen men who are markedly distinct from each other, all however misfits of a sort The interactions among these men are fascinating and propel the evolving plot powerfully.The picture presented of the aboriginal people is stark, grim, and entirely Other Possibilities of meaningful communication and understanding between them and the Europeans seem less than negligible, but these strange folk play a critical role in the unfolding of the novel s plot.White s writing is beautiful and strange His psychological sensitivity and his philosophical profundity are impressive and serve to create a mesmerizing atmosphere that is haunting The ambiance of the Outback that White creates leaves an indelible impression on the reader In this book he has conjured a mysterious and unsettling atmosphere that keeps opening itself to the reader long after the book has been closed for the last time I have not yet read any other of White s works, a situation I intend to remedy 10 10 Maybe there s a God aboveBut all I ve ever learned from loveWas how to shoot somebody who outdrew yaAnd it s not a cry that you hear at nightIt s not somebody who s seen the lightIt s a cold and it s a broken HallelujahLeonard CohenI couldn t think of a better placeholder, until I find words for a proper review It s been an exhausting month in the desert with VossIt is like using an iron crowbar at minus 65 degrees centigrade in Siberia when you let go, part of the skin adheres to it P 10 10 Maybe there s a God aboveBut all I ve ever learned from loveWas how to shoot somebody who outdrew yaAnd it s not a cry that you hear at nightIt s not somebody who s seen the lightIt s a cold and it s a broken HallelujahLeonard CohenI couldn t think of a better placeholder, until I find words for a proper review It s been an exhausting month in the desert with VossIt is like using an iron crowbar at minus 65 degrees centigrade in Siberia when you let go, part of the skin adheres to it Part of me went to Voss and blood tooRussian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko after reading Voss What kind of man is he wondered the public, who would never know If he was alreadyof a statue than a man, they really did not care, for he would satisfy their longing to perch something on a column, in a square or gardens, as a memorial to their own achievement They did, over, prefer to cast him in bronze than to investigate his soul, because all dark things made them uneasy and even on a morning of historic adventure, in bright primary colours, the shadow was sewn to the ends of his trousers, where the heels of his boots had frayed This is the man we follow into the unrecorded Australian desert in the mid 1800s, and we are hard pressed to find out if anyone comes out alive including some readers This is a good soul scouring of a book that travels into the undiscovered country of one man s morality and helps us test our own, as we measure his I would say this is typical Patrick White having now read two novels by him but typical in those two novels is that White seems to like putting humanity on trial, in both cases thus far using historical figures from Australia s past Twice now, I ve encountered characters who are forced to meet their elemental selves and test their own morality against their instincts and test themselves against society s s The social norms always break down and are rewritten with inspired vision Twice now, in my reading of White, it is the European colliding with the aboriginal society which forces confrontation and reinvention of the soul In A Fringe of Leaves, Ellen Roxburgh is rescued by an escaped convict, but her spiritual survival may be a matter of conjecture In this novel, all are lost view spoiler All are lost, physically, but we find that the ex convict turns up, miraculously, at the end of the story While he has lost everything he holds dear, he is still standing at the end of the ordeal Again, the convict he with the most tenuous ties to normal society is the one who emerges as some kind of hero a victor, at the least It is left to us to decide whether it is only those who have truly suffered are able to understand it and surmount it hide spoiler The brutality and the violence of the man, Voss, is only implied for the most part but the mind pulls it forth and paints such vivid agonies view spoiler Suffice it to say that it was a relief when one of the crew, having reached the very breaking point, commits suicide in a most brutal way My own response was simply a sigh of satisfaction I felt my spirit lifting in this moment, a relief to break the tension that had been wound so tightly hide spoiler Why does he undertake this journey, we ask ourselves He is not on any quest, measureable in this physical plane why gather beasts of burden and beasts of nourishment, along with the men he attempts to turn into beasts through his viciousness if he is only on a personal vision quest Why this retinue, this ungainly procession into the desert It comes as a flash, by the end of the novel, that he did not go into the desert to seek, or expiate personal sins, but to ultimately have an audience for his suffering It is this aspect which is so brutal and so unmerciful to be conscripted through this hell simply be a witness to his suffering and death But further, what is the point of witnessing this suffering if one cannot survive, almost by predestination for it is written in the stars that this mission will fail, everyone will die There must be, in the end, some message to the transformative power of suffering, surely It cannot be to simply promote the Christian ethos What was the atheist in White saying, when he wrote of Voss, as witnessed by Judd, the convict He would wash the sores of men He would sit all night with them when they were sick, and clean up filth with his own hands I cried, I tell you, after he was dead There was none of us could believe it when we saw the spear, hanging from his side, and shaking.Just as Jesus washed the disciples feet, just as Jesus was betrayed by Judas so too, did Voss wash and attend to wounds so too did Judd betray Voss and in the end, so too does Laura wash Voss s feet with her tears, as Mary Magdalene washed Christ s feet , as she pours her grief after Voss s statue is erected Christian parables re erected in the Australian outback To what purpose Whether Judd is an impostor or a madman, or simply a poor creature who has suffered too much, I am convinced that Voss had in him a little of Christ, like other men If he was composed of evil, along with the good, he struggled with that evil And failed Mercy Trevelyan alone realized the extent to which her mother had been tried by some experience of the afternoon If the daughter did not enquire into the origin of the mother s distress, it was because she had learnt that rational answers seldom do explain She was herself, over, of unexplained origin.Mercy, alone, prevails as the final message, without explanation And which brings us full circle, back to Leonard Cohen s wisdom No one believed what she had seenNo one believed what she heardBut there were sorrows to be healedAnd mercy, mercy in this worldhttps www.youtube.com watch v f96WyOne of the best novels I ve read in a decade or two, tied for first with A Fringe of Leaves While pondering on whether to read another Patrick White, I check my rating of Voss , which I remember dimly as an excruciatingly slow ride through 19th century Australia with a man I couldn t stand at all until the very end of the story Even though I felt that it was a struggle to get to the end of that reading journey, it left an impression on me that lingered that Patrick White s fiction is worth grappling with, that the effort the reader has to put in is mirrored in the effort of the c While pondering on whether to read another Patrick White, I check my rating of Voss , which I remember dimly as an excruciatingly slow ride through 19th century Australia with a man I couldn t stand at all until the very end of the story Even though I felt that it was a struggle to get to the end of that reading journey, it left an impression on me that lingered that Patrick White s fiction is worth grappling with, that the effort the reader has to put in is mirrored in the effort of the characters.If Voss seems arrogant, it probably is because only with a sense of superiority one dares to venture out on a trip that holds no pleasures If Laura on the other hand seems caught in her dreamworld, that probably is her survival strategy I think I will try my luck with White again There is enough left to explore In the end I actually began to despise this book Overwrought and pretentious in my opinion A simple story based on an explorer disappearing in outback Australia during colonial times I never felt that the simplicity of the story was saved by the writing Challenging prose is fine by me but this went beyond a challenge I almost feel that I read this book two and a half times as I read and reread passage after passage to try and get the nuances that were obviously completely above my tiny littl In the end I actually began to despise this book Overwrought and pretentious in my opinion A simple story based on an explorer disappearing in outback Australia during colonial times I never felt that the simplicity of the story was saved by the writing Challenging prose is fine by me but this went beyond a challenge I almost feel that I read this book two and a half times as I read and reread passage after passage to try and get the nuances that were obviously completely above my tiny little brain At one point Voss reads a poem written by one of his men and hates it I reread the poem and his reaction to it four times and even now as I type this, a reread for a fifth time, I am none the wiser as to why he dislikes the poem What did I miss Someone tell me The presentation of this book is also paragraphless is that a word in what seemed one long almost stream of consciousness delivery that had me returning to reread why the sudden change from character to character No doubt intentional but it left me frustrated and annoyed But again what would I know Loved by many, a friend of mine adores this and has read it several times, awarded the first ever Miles Franklin and author Patrick White is the only Australian Nobel Prize winner Yep what would I know I feel an utter traitor to Australian literature considering the reverence this is held in some circles but to be frank I detested it It took all my will to finish and I am glad I have Onwards and upwards Apparently White listened repeatedly to Alban Berg s violin concerto while composing Voss I was made aware of this about half way through I lazily experimented but found myself engulfed in the novel s emotional torrents Maybe my ears popped, but I wasn t aware of the music.Voss is a story of volition It is sun baked and agonizing Quickly thereafter I bought a half dozen of White s other works but Voss remains the only one I ve finished.Not to elaborate but Voss is about curiosity and will Apparently White listened repeatedly to Alban Berg s violin concerto while composing Voss I was made aware of this about half way through I lazily experimented but found myself engulfed in the novel s emotional torrents Maybe my ears popped, but I wasn t aware of the music.Voss is a story of volition It is sun baked and agonizing Quickly thereafter I bought a half dozen of White s other works but Voss remains the only one I ve finished.Not to elaborate but Voss is about curiosity and will Burr is about avarice File this one under day after review A night of excess left the world aslant today Thinking about Voss helps I detest humility, he said Is man so ignoble that he must lie in the dust, like worms If this is repentance, sin is less ugly Patrick White is Australia s only Nobel prize laureate if we haven t co opted Coetzee yet If you haven t heard of him, don t worry, it s only you and everyone else He also was the first winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award in 1957, but people mainly focus on the Nobel prize winning for some reason Voss, his most famous work, is as prickly and difficult I detest humility, he said Is man so ignoble that he must lie in the dust, like worms If this is repentance, sin is less ugly Patrick White is Australia s only Nobel prize laureate if we haven t co opted Coetzee yet If you haven t heard of him, don t worry, it s only you and everyone else He also was the first winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award in 1957, but people mainly focus on the Nobel prize winning for some reason Voss, his most famous work, is as prickly and difficult as its eponymous hero Inspired by the real life explorer Leichhardt yes the suburb in Sydney is named after him He turns out to be German rather than Italian, as you d expect who attempted to make the first overland crossing of Australia from East to West in 1848 Johann Ulrich Voss is a real oddball With delusions of godhood he subtly undermines any who threaten his authority Voss did not care to be told the secrets of others He preferred to arrive at them by his own intuition, then to pounce Now he did not have the advantage He falls in love with Laura Trevelyan They are brought together by their mutual contempt of other mere mortals Voss and Laura are the original hipsters Everyone is so bourgeois Get on our level Oh, said Laura, I had always been led to understand that the expression of thought was the height of unsociability Unlike us regular losers, their connection transcends the physical It is through letters written but never arrive , thoughts and dreams that they communicate Their love obsession folie a deux flowers as the distance between them grows This is a hard book to rate Did I enjoy Voss No Was it technically good Yes I wasn t apathetic, which is something Great was my admiration in some parts, deep was my agony in others Recommended reservedly for those who have the will to conquer the tyranny of distance between page one and page four hundred and forty eight *READ DOWNLOAD ↙ Voss ↚ WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY ROBERT MACFARLANESet in nineteenth century Australia, Voss is the story of the secret passion between an explorer and a na ve young woman Although they have met only on a few occasions, 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 Into the WildernessThe book opens with the delicacy of a Jane Austen A young woman, alone in a Sydney drawing room on a quiet Sunday morning around 1845, reluctantly receives a visitor from abroad That strange, foreign men should come on a Sunday when she herself had ventured on a headache was quite exasperating The headache on which Laura Trevelyan, the heroine, has so deliciously ventured is a cover for her recent loss of faith in conventional Christianity, yet the vast novel that follow Into the WildernessThe book opens with the delicacy of a Jane Austen A young woman, alone in a Sydney drawing room on a quiet Sunday morning around 1845, reluctantly receives a visitor from abroad That strange, foreign men should come on a Sunday when she herself had ventured on a headache was quite exasperating The headache on which Laura Trevelyan, the heroine, has so deliciously ventured is a cover for her recent loss of faith in conventional Christianity, yet the vast novel that follows will soon plunge into mysticism and madness, a magnificent wrestling match between man and God.For the foreign visitor is Johann Ulrich Voss, a German explorer who is to lead an expedition to traverse the unexplored Australian interior Awkward and antisocial, he is nonetheless a secular messiah with an almost divine sense of his own destiny Funded by Laura s uncle, he gathers together a motley collection of misfits and visionaries a secret poet, a sensitive ornithologist, a simple minded boy, a rich dilettante, and a former convict whose practical know how rivals Voss s own White s fondness for visionary loners will get even greater play in his next book, Riders in the Chariot Accompanied by two aborigines, Voss leads the party into the bush and through the desert, encountering both beauty and hardship, but ultimately tested less by the physical world than by the terrible discovery of their own inner natures.But back to that meeting in the drawing room So the light began to flow into the high room, and the sound of doves, and the intimate hum of insects Then, too, the squat maid had returned, bearing a tray of wine and biscuits the noise itself was a distraction, the breathing of a third person, before the trembling wine subsided in its decanter into a steady jewel Order does prevail How beautifully White uses the intrusion of the squat maid an ex convict with an ugly hare lip to emphasize that oasis of peace Though Voss and Laura dislike each other at first, they recognize an inner kinship, and remain in each other s thoughts and, for a while, letters, even as the explorer puts half the continent between them Chapters in the wilderness alternate with those in Sydney, where White s lucid wit channeling Austen, Thackeray, and Trollope provides a much needed relief from the ordeals of Voss and his party Yet Laura is no minor character, and her spiritual quest is no less intense for being conducted amid the confining world of picnics and balls.Every part of this astonishingly diverse book seems to contain parallels, foreshadowings, or echoes of every other It would be a great novel in any context, but specifically a great Australian one The contrast between the thin veneer of culture at one corner of the country and the untamed vastness behind it must have had special resonance in its early years as a colony, but it has also entered the mythology of the emerging nation The Australian outback becomes a metaphor for existential challenge, a crucible in which the externals of wealth and class melt in the forging of a new person Yet it is also a reproach, a vast and magnificent barbarity that cannot be covered over with the lace doily trappings of civilization It can be challenged only by people of sense and spirit, visionaries and outcasts like Voss and his followers Such people, Laura included, will suffer and may not always succeed White, something of an outcast himself, is too much of a realist to offer easy solutions But the spirit does endure This book is based upon the life of the nineteenth century Prussian explorer and naturalist Ludwig Leichhardt who disappeared whilst on an expedition into the Australian outback.A magnificent and unforgettable book to be read by all fans of Australian fiction.