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3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  1,712 Ratings  ·  134 Reviews

Set in nineteenth-century Australia, Voss is the story of the secret passion between an explorer and a naïve young woman. Although they have met only a few times, Voss and Laura are joined by overwhelming, obsessive feelings for each other. Voss sets out to cross the continent, and as hardships, mutiny and betrayal whittle away his
Paperback, 448 pages
Published July 21st 1994 by Vintage Classics (first published 1957)
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Feb 12, 2013 Bruce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Patrick White, the 20th century Australian Nobel Prize in Literature winner, published Voss in 1957. A quintessentially modernist novel, it defies easy description. Set in colonial Australia, its plot is complex and its exploration of psychological issues and depths is multi-layered. The fundamental plot is quickly told. The community of Europeans clustering in and around Sydney is intrigued by the arrival of Voss, a German explorer intent on crossing the continent for the first time. During his ...more
Dec 24, 2012 Jonfaith rated it it was amazing
Apparently White listened repeatedly to Alban Berg's violin concerto while composing Voss. I was made aware of this about half way through. I lazily experimented but found myself engulfed in the novel's emotional torrents. Maybe my ears popped, but I wasn't aware of the music.

Voss is a story of volition. It is sun-baked and agonizing. Quickly thereafter I bought a half dozen of White's other works but Voss remains the only one I've finished.

Not to elaborate but Voss is about curiosity and will.
Vit Babenco
Feb 10, 2016 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“They realized, standing on the wharf, that the orderly, grey, past life was of no significance. They had reached that point at which they would be offered up, in varying degrees, to chaos or to heroism. So they were shaking with their discovery, beside the water, as the crude, presumptuous town stretched out behind them, was reeling on its man-made foundations in the sour earth. Nothing was tried yet, or established, only promised.”
Patrick White purposely writes in such a manner that a reader t
K.D. Absolutely
Feb 26, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books; 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Very interesting story. It is about crossing the then unexplored center of the vast Australian continent. Look at the globe. Australia is a big piece of land in the lower part of the Southern hemisphere. According to Wiki, a big part of that piece of land are desserts and one of the first land explorer who attempted to cross it from coast-to-coast, was a Prussian explorer, Ludwig Leichhardt (1814-1848), who disappered in the Australian outback while doing his 3rd land exploration.

In this 1957 b
A Patrick White novel usually takes its time, I rarely made I through one in less than three weeks (they’re so well written, you want to read every sentence thrice), and while I actually began Voss in mid-December, February still didn’t find me much farther than page 20…

Mind you, I have been prepared, the 1st White novel I read was Riders in the Chariot, allegedly his best. Having finished that masterpiece I could hardly hope for another one of the same calibre to turn up any time soon, or so I
Justin Evans
Jul 15, 2015 Justin Evans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
File under: novels whose eponymous character is not the most interesting character in the book. Right alongside 'Anna Karenina,' 'Lila,' 'Moby Dick,' and the central book in this tradition, 'Frankenstein.'

Anyway, this Patrick White novel, you will be surprised to learn, is about the internal states of a small number of characters, the heroes among whom don't fit in, the villains among whom fit in very well. The heroes are mystics and idealists, gazing longingly through this (natural) world at t
Jun 13, 2012 Lynne rated it it was amazing
I'd avoided the books of Patrick White up till now because I'd heard he was difficult. With this year being the Centennary of his birth and a lot of arts programs being devoted to this, I decided to see what the fuss was all about. Now I'm only sorry I didn't pick him up earlier. From the very first page of this book, I was totally engaged. Inspired by the story of explorer Ludwig Leichardt who died in the Australian desert in 1849, it's a powerful narrative told in some of the most beautiful ...more
Now why doesn't it surprise me that not one of my well read high brow friends, Australian or otherwise, has read this Nobel Prize winner?

Let alone reviewed it....

I'd do it myself, but why bother when Fred Dagg has this to say about writing The Great Australian Novel. Australians, if you haven't heard this, it's hilarious. For others, it is still very funny (he is great on Tolstoy), but there will be the odd reference you don't get.
Oct 24, 2016 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of words
Recommended to Chris by: Paul "the man" Stern
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
James Murphy
Jul 03, 2012 James Murphy rated it liked it
This is the first Patrick White novel I've read. I was prepared for central characters larger than life and perceived as mythic, as is Voss himself and his parallel, Laura Trevelyan. I wasn't surprised by a sense of divinity, of a journey into a kind of hell. What's impressive is the way White uses language, how he controls impressions and the emphasis of his narrative with so few words. It's the same way a poet isolates a single word on a line or uses a space to point to meaning. So White can ...more
Lately I’ve been searching for really outstanding books set in Australia to read, and that search led me to Australia’s first, and so far only, Nobel Prize winner, Patrick White and his extraordinary novel, Voss. Voss is the fictionalized account of the life of German explorer Ludwig Leichardt and his 1848 trek into the heart of the Australian desert where only aboriginal tribesmen dared to roam, and his subsequent disappearance. Much has been made of White’s fictionalization of the life of a re ...more
May 08, 2009 El rated it really liked it
Recommended to El by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (210/1001)
Exploration stories are love.

Primarily taking place in 1845, Johann Ulrich Voss, a German explorer, introduces the reader to the Australian outback by setting out across the continent. The story begins with Voss meeting Laura Trevalyan, a young orphaned woman who is new to the colony. Her uncle is funding Voss's expedition.

The story progresses into the outback and is almost the entirety of the book. Voss's expedition travels through both the dry and the wet lands, meeting adversity at every step
Mar 22, 2012 !Tæmbuŝu marked it as to-read
Nancy Burns
Nobel Prize 1973 'Voss" is an experience!

My review:
Feb 13, 2015 Leonie rated it really liked it
Set in 1840's Australia. Voss is an intense German explorer being sponsored by Laura Trevelyan's uncle. Laura is the thoughtful, self-sufficient introvert orphan niece in a bustling socially ambitious family. Voss, a straggly, awkward figure dressed stiffly in black would be "ludicrous, if not for his arrogance" and does his best to ignore others. While Voss is preparing to set out into the bush he has a handful of encounters with Laura which reflect animosity, awkwardness and recognition. Their ...more
Stephen Durrant
This novel has moments of mythic power, and White writes with originality and strength: "There comes a moment when an individual who is too honest to take refuge in the old illusion of self-importance is suspended agonizingly between the flat sky and the flat earth, and prayer is no more than a slight gumminess on the roof of the mouth" (p. 325). Themes of self-importance AND humility resonate throughout this story of a mysterious German, Voss, who leads a group of explorers and ne'er-do-wells ...more
Mij Woodward
Oct 24, 2013 Mij Woodward rated it did not like it
I gave this book one star, and on an objective level, this is unfair, since I only made it through the first chapter, page 25 of 442 pages.

However, this is without a doubt the most difficult book I have ever started to read.

Sentences I would have to read again, and then again, to get the meaning.

And then, just barely catching the meaning.

If someone could draw a cartoon of me reading this book, above my head would be one of those caption drawings with little "bubbles" floating up from my head an
Oct 10, 2009 David rated it did not like it
Nov 29, 2011 Drew rated it liked it
Shelves: nobelles-lettres
High Modernism...we meet again. Started off pretty slowly, as these things do, with White waxing eloquent about everything except the one thing I wanted to read about, which was a badass German explorer setting off to conquer, or be conquered by, the Australian bush. Only, when it gets further into the story, and we spend more and more time with Voss and less time with the increasingly interesting Laura Trevelyan, he turns out to be less a badass and more a petty, insecure control freak. And ...more
It wasn't until I was about 280 pages into this tale of an arrogant explorer and the woman who becomes emotionally attached to him that I wanted to be reading it. If it wasn't on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, the author hadn't won a Nobel, and I hadn't been reading it for some challenges, I probably would have bailed on it somewhere much sooner. I didn't particularly like most of the characters and therefore had a very hard time caring about their emotional and physical struggles. ...more
Brent Hayward
Mar 05, 2011 Brent Hayward rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My friend Bob B. has made me self-conscious about 5-star ratings. He says I give one to every book. This is not true at all. However, I realized why it might seem that way: I'm not often surprised by lameness in literature because I don't pick up books randomly. That's to say, I usually know I'm going to like a book before I read it - otherwise it wouldn't get into the house. (Though once in a while, the goalie lets one in.) I like Patrick White. A lot. Everything I've read so far. A nice old ...more
Dec 14, 2009 Tiffany rated it really liked it
You know that feeling when you haven't exactly *enjoyed* a book, but you realize that it was really, really good? That sums up "Voss" for me. Nobel-prize-winning author Patrick White is about two cuts below Lawrence Durrell in terms of readability. But his prose is chewy the same way Durrell's is, relying on unusual word use to convey subtle meanings. The plot of "Voss" swings between a German explorer and a spinster in Sydney, but this book is really *about* divinity and humanity, the devil and ...more
White, it seems to me, wrote unforgiving books. By which I mean the sort of books that, by nourishing vital and essentially human heat, call for a collaborative mind capable of retaining moral memory. This is a consecration by verbal fire, whose reward is phenomenological plenitude. Hence the internal split between the narrative power that heeds in sensory density and the intellectual fatigue that follows the physical discipline of reading. And throughout it all White makes us recognise the ...more
João Fernandes
I always finish my books, but I am sorry I can't. On this one I have to give up, because it is shackled to my legs and I'm reading it for the sole purpose of finishing it, which is unacceptable for me. Halfway through and still nothing. It has nothing to do with the book, I guess, I just can't seem to get into it. I look forward to retrying White sometime soon, a shorter one perhaps.
Apr 23, 2013 Ruth rated it did not like it
Shelves: dof-didnotfinish
The best known book of 1973 Nobel Laureate Patrick White. It looked to be a big, fat satisfying read, but somehow I just couldn’t get into into. Slow-moving, turgid almost, with lots of explaining and telling instead of showing. I finally jumped ship about 100 pages in.
Daniel Simmons
Nov 24, 2014 Daniel Simmons rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An arduous but phenomenal read that charts the explorations, physical and metaphysical, of the titular character across "the unpleasanter parts of Australia." Vivid, unsettling, and crazily ambitious writing.
Apr 08, 2014 Paul rated it did not like it
SPOILER ALERT! A bunch of people go on a desert expedition and die. There! You've read the book more-or-less.
Alejandro Teruel
This is a complex, dense and unbelievably rich novel, whose reading is not to be undertaken lightly.
It interweaves very different strands achieving a unique literary texture. One strand is a Jane Austen inspired comedy of manners novel exposing Australian colonial -and perhaps not so colonial- society to a savage attack in passage after passage of irony and wit:
(1)...but Mrs. Bonner was most fortunate in that she was able to banish thought almost completely from her head [...]

“(2)...There is man
Aug 15, 2015 Steve rated it really liked it
High 4. Patrick White has delivered a perfectly balanced mix of a Victorian derring-do adventure yarn with a depiction of the high society of nineteenth century Sydney. Moreover, he fuels the tireless passion of the protagonist of each half of the novel with an unlikely but all-consuming romance. The former protagonist is Voss, the determined German explorer, recently arrived in the antipodes with the sole purpose of crossing the vast Australian continent. The latter is Laura Trevelyan, the ...more
K. C. Smith
I find it hard to believe I only recently caught wind of one of Australia’s most renowned authors (Peter Carey does not have a Nobel Prize, and likely gets more play in North America because he is published and lives in New York). The name came up in a book I picked up in Sydney called, appropriately, Sydney, by Delia Falconer―an instalment in the brilliant “City Series” from New South Press, which has a local author paint an impressionistic portrait of the city combining memoir, legend, and loc ...more
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All About Books: Week 77 - Voss by Patrick White 7 32 Mar 27, 2015 04:07AM  
Australian literature 4 20 Jun 12, 2014 02:25PM  
Austrailian Literature 1 20 Mar 26, 2008 02:09AM  
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Patrick Victor Martindale White was an Australian author widely regarded as one of the major English-language novelists of the 20th century. From 1935 until death, he published twelve novels, two short story collections, eight plays, and non-fiction. His fiction freely employs shifting narrative vantages and the stream of consciousness technique. In 1973, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for ...more
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