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The manuscript, Flaws in the Glass (1981), is Patrick Victor Martindale White's autobiography. White, born in 1912 in England, migrated to Sydney, Australia, when he was six months old. For three years, at the age of 20, he studied French and German literature at King's College at the University of Cambridge in England.
Throughout his life, he published 12 novels. In 1957 he won the inaugural Miles Franklin Literary Award for Voss, published in 1956. In 1961, Riders in the Chariot became a best-seller, winning the Miles Franklin Literary Award. In 1973, he was the first Australian author to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for The Eye of the Storm, despite many critics describing his works as `un-Australian' and himself as `Australia's most unreadable novelist.' In 1979, The Twyborn Affair was short-listed for the Booker Prize, but he withdrew it from the competition to give younger writers the opportunity to win the award.
His autobiography, Flaws in the Glass, is a quarter of the size of his typically large tomes, describing his school life, life as a pastoralist in Australia, his home in Centennial Park, and his homosexuality. Unlike most artists who refrain from disclosing their favourite works, he openly admits that "in my own opinion, my three best novels are The Solid Mandala, The Aunt's Story, and The Twyborn Affair. All three say something more than what is sacred to Aust. Lit. For this reason some of them were ignored in the beginning, some reviled and dismissed as pornography."
White seems ill at ease writing about himself because the writing doesn't have the same literary style as his fictional works, often being disjointed as he responds to criticism of his works.Read more ›
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'Lacking flamboyance, cursed with reserve, I chose fiction.' Patrick White's self-portrait (rather than memoir) was first published in 1981. He is still the only Australian literature Nobelist. (Coetzee doesn't count as an Australian Nobelist, he converted after the award.) White was an outstanding wordsmith, who rarely mis-stepped and is mostly free of platitudes and cheap turns. Mostly, which means: not always. The Greek travel segments of this book have some odd and sinister hints at Slavs; that must refer to looming international conflicts with northern neighbors.
The man and his country had no easy relationship. White was an outsider. In his words: he was posing as a member of his own family. Writing was not an honored male profession. His memoirs are no standard delivery either. More association game than chronological discipline. Very harsh with his own self, even his childish self. No love invested on mother, and little on father. The man could be unpleasant. A writer's mission does not involve being a nice person. The man grew up between England and Oz, with some romancing La France. In between he had a few years of infatuation with romantic Germany in the 30s, but the Hitlery drove him off. He doesn't glorify his pre-war years as a struggling writer, nor his North African/'Near Eastern' war experience in 'intelligence'. He doesn't hide his sexual inclination, but he doesn't dwell on it very much either. The center of the tale is PW's relationship with his life long partner, a Greek whom he met during the war. He became a Helenophile. When they decide to stay together, and do this in Australia, they take on a heavy load of social complications. But even those are not spelled out in detail.Read more ›
Patrick Victor Martindale White, AC (28 May 1912 – 30 September 1990) is the only Australian writer to have won the Nobel Prize for Literature (in 1973). Between 1939 and 1990, Patrick White published twelve novels:
Happy Valley (1939); The Living and the Dead (1941); The Aunt's Story (1948) The Tree of Man (1955); Voss (1957); Riders in the Chariot (1961) The Solid Mandala (1966); The Vivisector (1970); The Eye of the Storm (1973) A Fringe of Leaves (1976); The Twyborn Affair (1979); Memoirs of Many in One (1986) His unfinished novel The Hanging Garden was published posthumously in 2012.
Patrick White also published three short story collections:
The Burnt Ones (1964); The Cockatoos (1974); Three Uneasy Pieces (1987)
Additionally, Patrick White wrote some poetry, eleven plays (not all have been published), and a screenplay: The Night the Prowler (1978).
Flaws in the Glass – a self-portrait was published in 1981, which consists of three sections totalling 260 pages.
The first 156 pages are Patrick White’s self-portrait, describing aspects of his life, his discovery both of self and of his creativity. In Patrick White’s largely detached account, full of perceptive observation and description, there is no self-congratulation. He writes of his fiction:
‘In my own opinion my three best novels are The Solid Mandala, The Aunt’s Story, and The Twyborn Affair.’ And tells us that:
‘All the houses I have lived in have been renovated and refurnished to accommodate fictions.’
The second section of the book, ‘Journeys’ consists of 62 pages of accounts of Patrick White’s travels with his partner Manoly Lascaris around the mainland and islands of Greece.Read more ›