Patrick White, Saul Bellow and the Problem of Literary Value
‘Patrick White’s fiction has been ambivalently received. For all its celebration, dissenters continue to insist on a gap between its reputation and its actual achievements. In this essay, I want to take a step towards strengthening our assessment of it through an analysis that I hope may also illuminate possibilities for literary judgement more widely. I will limit myself to a single novel, The Solid Mandala (1968), and to using a received if somewhat old-fashioned critical technique – comparison. In the spirit of literary criticism as it was developed by T.S.Eliot, F.R. Leavis and the New Critics in the first half of the twentieth century, I will place passages from The Solid Mandala alongside passages from Saul Bellow’s Mr Sammler’s Planet.’ (Author’s abstract)
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Published 1 June 2012 in Volume 27 No. 2. Subjects: Australian literature - Comparisons with overseas literature, Australian literature and writers, Critical reception, Patrick White.