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Neo-Victorianism, settler (post)colonialism and domesticity in Patrick White’s Voss

Boccardi, Mariadele

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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.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 8, 2019
Online Publication Date May 23, 2019
Publication Date Jun 1, 2022
Deposit Date Mar 12, 2019
Publicly Available Date Mar 12, 2019
Journal The Journal of Commonwealth Literature
Print ISSN 0021-9894
Electronic ISSN 1741-6442
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 57
Issue 2
Pages 261-275
Keywords Patrick White, Voss, neo-victorianism, settler colonialism, national narratives, domesticity, pastoral, Australian literature
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : © 2019. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications


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