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

Boccardi, M

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Abstract

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 post-war and contemporary fiction that has not yet been deployed with reference to Voss. I argue that, whilst 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 amongst 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 a-historical, mythological self-realization for the two protagonists, Ulrich Voss and Laura Trevelyan.

Citation

Boccardi, M. (in press). Neo-Victorianism, settler (post)colonialism and domesticity in Patrick White's Voss. Journal of Commonwealth Literature, https://doi.org/10.1177/0021989419846926

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 8, 2019
Online Publication Date May 23, 2019
Journal The Journal of Commonwealth Literature
Print ISSN 0021-9894
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
DOI https://doi.org/10.1177/0021989419846926
Keywords Patrick White, Voss, neo-victorianism, settler colonialism, national narratives, domesticity, pastoral, Australian literature
Public URL https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/850804
Publisher URL https://doi.org/10.1177/0021989419846926
Additional Information Additional Information : © 2019. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications

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