Review of Reading Corporeality in Patrick White's Fiction: An Abject Dictatorship of the Flesh, by Bridget Grogan

The distinctive repetition of embodied characters and material environments in Patrick White’s prose has always busied Australian literature scholars. Bridget Grogan’s new work on the author’s obsession with corporeality delves deep into the discomforting realm of the body and its bleeding, burning and pulsing pressures. Indeed, Grogan invites us, as she argues White himself does, to ‘“kiss the corpse,” to accept the body’ and with it the dissolute qualities of human subjectivity White examines so closely in his narratives (16).

To kiss the corpse is to engage with Julia Kristeva’s work on abjection and its insistence on dissolution as inherent in the very making (or unmaking) of the modern subject. This feature is central to Grogan’s reading of the complex nature of corporeality in White’s work because as Grogan very clearly states, ‘The abject incites a paradoxically horrifying desire because there is something compelling about loosening the shackles of the…

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Published 19 December 2019 in Volume 34, No. 2.. Subjects: Patrick White, Corporeality.

Cite as: Kelaita, Jasmin. ‘Review of Reading Corporeality in Patrick White's Fiction: An Abject Dictatorship of the Flesh, by Bridget Grogan.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 34, no. 2, 2019, doi: 10.20314/als.900d51983d.