Randolph Stow’s Outrider and the French Voyager Poem


Whereas the negative early criticism of Tourmaline (1963) found cogent, if belated rebuttal in the articles of A.D. Hope and Helen Tiffin that appeared ten years after what became known as 'the Tourmaline affair', an equivalent process of amendment has not occurred in the case of Randolph Stow's second volume of poems, Outrider (1962). Since little later criticism addresses the volume as a whole rather than individual poems, the remarkable shift from the Romantic and Metaphysical derivations in Act One (1957) to the Symbolist and Modernist allegiances of Outrider have not been appreciated. Critics have failed to acknowledge that Outrider was not intended as a relatively random collection of poems written over a number of years but rather a coherently organised sequence, whose procedures were inspired by 19th century French voyager poetry. In its strategies, Outrider can most profitably be regarded as an intensely personal counterpart to Tourmaline, whose achievement was likewise to construct a literary mode from the broadly European rather than the narrowly Australian heritage; one that could incorporate, within in its operations, a fundamentally Taoist resolution to divisions within the Western consciousness.

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Published 1 October 1997 in Volume 18 No. 2. Subjects: Australian literary criticism, Literary influences, Modernism, Poetic techniques, Poetry, Randolph Stow.

Cite as: Whitehouse, Carl. ‘Randolph Stow’s Outrider and the French Voyager Poem.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 18, no. 2, 1997, doi: 10.20314/als.0dbd31e26a.