Hurtle Duffield is incapable of loving anything except what he paints. The men and women who court him during his long life are, above all, the victims of his art. He is the vivisector, dissecting their weaknesses with cruel precision: his sister's deformity, a grocer's moonlight indiscretion and the passionate illusions of his mistress, Hero Pavloussi. It is only when Hurtle meets an egocentric adolescent whom he sees as his spiritual child does he experience a deeper, more treacherous emotion.
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(198mm x 129mm x 42mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
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US Kirkus Review »
For almost twenty years Patrick White, the Australian novelist, has been respectfully considered as perhaps his country's most important contemporary although none of his books are either very inviting or very accessible. Symbolic abstractions lurk beneath a highly recalcitrant reality, or in the word of one of his commoner creatures, "hidjus" with a sour, purulent, flyblown ugliness. Persevere if you will with his larger than life sized portrait of an artist, Hurtle, scourged by an inner and ascendant vision which removes him from worldly concerns and rewards (fame, and later a knighthood rejected). He's adopted at an early age by the wealthy Courtneys and his hunchbacked, birthmarked half-sister repulses him although she will return at the close of his life. Sexuality occasionally distracts and drives him - the worn prostitute Nance who recognizes he's not '"uman" - equally briefly the self-denigrating Hero. But his relationships are only tangential as from his early austere rock paintings in the bush he goes onward and upward to his God paintings, "God the Vivisector, God the Artist, God." True, much of this has a savage and single-minded obsession which overrides the rank and disfigured aspects of existence but in the end the artist has isolated himself from the world and the book has collaterally immolated itself in its own grand conception. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Patrick White
Patrick White was born in England in 1912 and taken to Australia, where his father owned a sheep farm, when he was six months old. He was educated in England at Cheltenham college and King's College, Cambridge. He settled in London, where he wrote several unpublished novels, then served in the RAF during the war. He returned to Australia after the war. He became the most considerable figure in modern Australian literature, awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1973. The great poet of Australian landscape, he turned its vast empty spaces into great mythic landscapes of the soul. His position as a man of letters was controversial, provoked by his acerbic, unpredictable public statements and his belief that it is eccentric individuals who offer the only hope of salvation. He died in September 1990.