This article reads Patrick White’s 1957 novel Voss as an early example of Neo-Victorian fiction, a relatively recent but critically well-established category of postwar and contemporary fiction that has not yet been deployed with reference to Voss. I argue that, while seemingly adopting the elements of Australian narratives of exploration and settlement, White’s Neo-Victorian approach in fact contests these narratives, which began to emerge in the nineteenth century that forms the setting of the novel and were still current in the mid-twentieth century when it was written. In so doing, Voss exposes the tensions and contradictions inherent in settler narratives more generally and shows their reliance on social, cultural, and textual models imported from Britain, primary among them rural domesticity and the pastoral. My reading of Voss challenges existing scholarship on White’s novel, which tends to see Voss either as a contribution to the discourse of Australian national identity or as a work interested in ahistorical, mythological self-realization for the two protagonists, Ulrich Voss and Laura Trevelyan.
Boccardi, M. (2022). Neo-Victorianism, settler (post)colonialism and domesticity in Patrick White’s Voss. Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 57(2), 261-275. https://doi.org/10.1177/0021989419846926