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Voss (Penguin Classics)

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  1,325 ratings  ·  100 reviews
Join J. M. Coetzee and Thomas Keneally in rediscovering Nobel Laureate Patrick White

In 1973, Australian writer Patrick White was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature "for an epic and psychological narrative art which has introduced a new continent into literature." Set in nineteenth-century Australia, Voss is White's best-known book, a sweeping novel about a secret passi
Paperback, Penguin Classics, 440 pages
Published January 27th 2009 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1957)
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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
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.
K.D. Absolutely
Feb 26, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
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 an ...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.
Mar 22, 2015 Chris rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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 g ...more
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
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
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 o ...more
May 08, 2009 El rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Romance and adventure.
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 ugl ...more
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
Mij Woodward
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
I read this book as a teenager and again recently as an adult. It's an extraordinary work, dark and hallucinatory and strange, the terrible story of Voss and his little group of explorers who venture into the interior of the Australian outback. It's also the story of Voss's love for Laura Trevelyan, who had the disadvantage in the Australia of those days of being clever and bookish. This is not a page turner. White makes no concessions. It's up to the reader to take it or leave it. The words hav ...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
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
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 orphaned nie ...more
Wow, this was a surprise! At first it seems to be a classic adventurestory about a sturdy German, named Voss, who as the first one ever, succeeds in making the passage through Australia, from east to west, around 1840. This story is mixed with the platonic lovestory between this Voss-character and the headstrong lady Laura. But the book offers much more than this: it is a derisive portrait of society in Sydney (in the manner of Jane Austen), an accumulation of wisdom on life, death and love (in ...more
Richard Stuart
"Voss" is mystical, mythical in stature, devouring all humble materials: words, worlds, life-- the unceasing momentum, and death, where the ants dance. Poetry abounds, astounds in this novel. Dreams become vision quest, devils dissolve and angels teach arithmetic to would-be young ladies, adopting all and sundry to their intellectual bare breast. Time consumes us all, if not the raw elements in chaotic anarchy to our arrogant designs. The blueprint of death, no deeper than the bluest hue of radi ...more
Not for everybody! Bealk, black and satirical, not to mention historical, the only thing that recommends it, (which is a huge understatement) is the writing style that captures what I suspect was "things as they were". Difficult book to review - would appeal to Australians, interested in their "coloniaL" past. Imperialists? Don't read it, as it is very satirical, scathing in fact, of British Imperialism. Having said that, anyone with those historical roots, SHOULD read it. Comparitively, AUSTRAL ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
White understands people aren’t that deep, in and of themselves. It’s the actions, usually wholly contradictory and human, that bring them to life and does he ever!

I feel electric reading his words, especially VOSS. And his dialogue is just as good as his prose which is genius.

Two passages I loved:

At times, his arrogance, did resolve itself into simplicity and sincerity, though it was usually difficult, especially for strangers, to distinguish those occasions.

the other one:

Expectation was goade
White's prose is impressive, but for me, it did not go anywhere. As others have mentioned, "Voss" is an odd hybrid between Jane Austen and Joseph Conrad. I found the Austen echoes very engaging, but the Conrad "man against nature and himself" stuff just did not connect with me (and I really like Conrad). The result was that this book dragged for me, and it took me forever to read it. Based on the ratings of many other readers, I clearly missed something.

I never did understand the connection betw
Christian Schwoerke
I had no doubt when I was reading this novel that I was in the presence of an artist. Certainly the simpler aspects of the novel were there: story, characters, dimension, proportion, theme, etc., but all of these were subsumed into a vision, a sense of the world that is usually glossed over in other writers. There is more in White’s reality than the objects that inhabit space, and his exploration of a spiritual dimension, tentative though it was, put me in mind of writers like Golding (eg, Darkn ...more
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All About Books: Week 77 - Voss by Patrick White 7 25 Mar 26, 2015 08:07PM  
Australian literature 5 18 Jun 12, 2014 05:25AM  
Austrailian Literature 1 19 Mar 25, 2008 06:09PM  
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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 Literat ...more
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