Is Phallocentricity a Sin? or a Peccadillo?: Comedy and Gender in Ethel Anderson’s At Parramatta and Patrick White’s Voss
What I want to explore in this essay is the wit with which, in Voss, White responds to the challenge and to the gender bias implicit in Phillips's sketch of the square-jawed Common Man, and to compare him with a writer who seems to have been virtually ignored until the 1980s, Ethel Anderson. Anderson's collection of short stories, At Parramatta, was first published as a 'whole book' in 1956, though versions of the stories had appeared in the Bulletin between 1950and 1955. Though Anderson was seventy-three when the book was published and White was in his forties when he wrote Voss, their use of mannered comedy and of a mid-nineteenth century setting for their fiction which enables them to comment trenchantly but unobtrusively on the Australia of their own time makes the comparison worthwhile. Their comedy might have seemed frivolous to socialist realists of the period but they use it to explore aspects of modern Australian cultural life, specifically gender roles and conformity to the official image of the Australian man, which they suggest were moulded by European attitudes in the nineteenth century.
Please sign in to access this article and the rest of our archive.
Published 1 June 1991 in European Perspectives: Contemporary Essays on Australian Literature. Subjects: Australian culture, Gender roles, Sexual politics, Sexuality & sexual identity, Wit & humour, Writer's craft, Patrick White.
Cite as: Smith, Angela. ‘Is Phallocentricity a Sin? or a Peccadillo?: Comedy and Gender in Ethel Anderson’s At Parramatta and Patrick White’s Voss.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 15, no. 2, 1991, doi: 10.20314/als.e5ee8b4d2a.