Review of Patrick White and Alchemy, by James Bulman-May, and Patrick White, Painter Manque: Paintings, Painters and Their Influence on His Writing, by Helen Verity Hewitt

For a while, David Marr's monumental biography of Patrick White appears to have had the effect of closing down interest in White's writing; it is as if the last word had been said, the Monster revealed, so we could turn our attention to other, less disturbing writers. Before him, David Tacey's Jungian analysis emphasised the psychological 'flaws' that may have created the writer's imagination, and Simon During reminded us that White was hardly interested in social justice. What more need be said? He was a Dead White Male, indeed. So it is encouraging to find two new books that take White's seriousness as an artist as given. James Bulman-May moves beyond Tacey's Jungian analysis to elucidate the intricate alchemical symbolism that White may have derived from Jung; Helen Verity Hewitt's account of White's interest in and contact with visual artists turns one aspect of his biography into an examination of the transference of ideas between art forms. White emerges from both as an artist and intellect to be reckoned with.

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Published 1 October 2003 in Volume 21 No. 2. Subjects: Patrick White.

Cite as: Lever, Susan. ‘Review of Patrick White and Alchemy, by James Bulman-May, and Patrick White, Painter Manque: Paintings, Painters and Their Influence on His Writing, by Helen Verity Hewitt.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 21, no. 2, 2003. https://doi.org/10.20314/als.ff59857a93.