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The Vivisector

3.98  ·  Rating Details  ·  544 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
After his friend is killed in a horse-racing accident, up-and-coming glass artisan Gerard Logan finds himself embroiled in a deadly search for a stolen videotape--a videotape that just might destroy his own life.
ebook, 256 pages
Published January 27th 2009 by Berkley (first published 1970)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,717)
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Vit Babenco
Jun 03, 2015 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are two greatest novels about painters: The Horse's Mouth by Joyce Cary and The Vivisector by Patrick White and I can’t tell which one is grander – they are so different.
“Birds rose and fell in the air, like the notes of music out of the piano shops in Surrey Hills.”
A true talent ought to dissect reality and reconstruct the bleeding fragments into something new – something dreadfully beautiful or beautifully dreadful capable to shock any pharisaic imagination.
“Again the long sad picture h
Mar 02, 2015 [P] rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'What is in a name?' So said some dude with a beard. Well, the answer is quite a lot, as it happens. I once knew a man with the surname Dicker, and it nearly ruined his life. According to the man himself people mercilessly took the piss, girls were embarrassed to date him, he couldn't get a job, etc, and as a result he became so ultra-sensitive about it that he lost all confidence in himself. I think it is fair to say, then, that a name can colour how one sees a particular person or thing. I men ...more
I did a bit of research on the internet and found out from Wikipedia that this book was dedicated to the painter Sidney Nolan. Patrick White denied that the main character Hurtle Duffield was supposed to be Sidney Nolan (or any painter for that matter). I had never heard of Sidney Nolan (I love when books let me discover something new), so for me, the whole time I was reading this book, I kept feeling like Hurtle Duffield was like the painter, Francis Bacon. I have done some research on the inte ...more
Justin Evans
Sep 04, 2013 Justin Evans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
So I've started a project, in which I read a couple of things by everyone who won the Nobel for literature. No, I'm kidding. I'd rather walk two hundred miles into the middle of nowhere, sit under a freeway bridge, knife myself in the stomach and die slowly over five days in excruciating pain than read things written by most Nobel laureates.

No, I'm reading this because a) the cover of this book is freaking amazing and b) I'm 33 now, and apparently that's the age when culture cringe* starts to f
Jul 05, 2015 Emmett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature, art
The very few (?) novels available about art and its makers are little indication of the immense curiosity aroused by the tempting unknown interiors of the artistic mind. While it's difficult to put into concise words what exactly about artists fascinate readers, perhaps the kind of questions one would very much like to ask would be easier to phrase: "What goes on in the mind of an artist? How does he/she feel? What is their experience of the world like?" Because artists surely are strange creatu ...more
There were parts of this book that I enjoyed, but overwhelmingly I found it drawn out, boring, pretentious, and a little bit ridiculous.

The novel is about Hurtle Duffield, a boy essentially bought from his parents for a wealthy couple's amusement at his charm and cleverness. An initially sensitive and bright little lad, the act of being sold seems to bring out something darker in the boy, and his push towards becoming an artists reveals a brutal, crueler side of him that he ends up exploring mo
Aug 29, 2012 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Vivisector has its moments: undeniable, succinct moments of clarity and of honesty, moments that shine out from the page and that can make you look at a certain subject in a different way - and it is these moments that make this book a worthwhile read, despite its length and its absence of likeable characters. Just like Hurtle Duffield has to toil for his art, you may feel yourself wading through endless description, occasionally pretentious art-posturing and repetition; but there are diamon ...more
Nell Grey
Nov 28, 2011 Nell Grey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourite
A monumental novel which sets out to chronicle the life of fictional artist Hurtle Duffield from childhood to death.

Sold by his poor parents into a wealthy family, the driving force throughout his life is to realize his inner vision by whatever means he can. His ruthlessness in dissecting and exposing the passions and weaknesses of those around him in order to serve his art leaves him cut off from those warmer human emotions which could so easily be his until a musical child, whom he recognises
Jun 22, 2015 Lorraine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: leftanimpression
I am not sure if the artist is so Romantic. it is uneven, yes. the detachment is peculiar. Coetzee wrote the introduction and I am surprised that he did not touch on the colonial aspect (no space?). For if anything perhaps White's novel shows the uneasiness of the Australian artist upon entering the sanctified 'art' world -- and there is Australia's history of course, as penal colony and all. One is tempted to read this allegorically -- the life events of Duffield.

I am not sure that this is the
Oct 12, 2014 Kathryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An intriguing look into the life of a rather uncouth man, beginning in childhood and ending, well, with the end. What's most intriguing about this novel is that it straddles the line between modernist and post-modernist literature. Some critics have argued that it needs more "Australian-ness," but I thought it had the right about of Australian essence to be quirky in that respect, but little enough so that non-Australians can still easily understand what is being said. There is a bit of a shock ...more
I'm marking this as finished even though I didn't finish it/DNFed.
So I'm not going to rate this but I didn't like this one bit. I could enjoy some passages and that I could tell that Patrick White is a good writer, but the story dragged and none of the characters are likable at all.
I read this for my book club, at the moment we're reading the shortlist of the Man Booker Prize 1970, and so far that year, in my opinion, not a strong year. I would have stopped reading this earlier if it wasn't a b
Carmel Bell
Feb 28, 2016 Carmel Bell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A harsh profession, the vivisector within this book, lives up to the promise. He turns his skills inward and outward, displaying an uncanny knack to dissect and review not only his life, but the lives of others. Sacrificed as a child, for largely economic reasons, his skills to reveal and dissect those around him are soon revealed, but does he ever find what it is he is seeking? You would enjoy this book if you are on a quest to find self and seek a thought provoking, painful, yet enjoyable jour ...more
Apr 24, 2013 Nirmal rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Story is about a painter Hurtle Duffield who analyses his friends and relatives like a surgeon performing a vivisection with full detachment. Its all done for the sake of his art. Story starts with his initial childhood in a poor family. But he is eventually adopted by wealthy Courtney's’ where his mom works as Laundress.

Courtney have a daughter Rhoda, who has a disability in the form of bent/stooped back. Hurtle is quiet unusual as compare to any normal children. Chiefly he is ahead of his age
Oct 24, 2010 Sull rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sull by: Charity shop find.
I'm not really finished with this yet, but I guess I've had enough for now. It IS endless (700+ pages), one of these huge fictionalized "Life of" books that traces the rise & fall, & rise & fall again & again, etc. I'm interested in ground-breaking artist Hurtle Duffield, but I need a break, & unless my pile of library-&-charity-shop books either disappears or gets pretty boring, it may be a while before I dive back in to finish the last 150 pages of Hurtle's life. He's o ...more
Apr 03, 2015 Sean rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Compelling + chilling in equal measure, I picked up this book on a whim to read at work and couldn't put it down. Consumed in 2 weeks. Absorbing, intense, visceral, earthy it tells the life of a nihilistic anti-hero Hurtle Duffield. He knows from an early age he is an artist. Damaged by youthful experiences he becomes a parasite upon people and relationships which fuel his art. Truly great writing about the creative process.
Patrick White began writing with 2 books of verse, before moving into no
Berenice Kreymborg
This is the first Patrick White book I read sometime ago but its leaves a lasting impression. Beautifully written is an under statement. Highly recommended
Oct 07, 2014 Morgan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 stars with the benefit of the doubt that if I had 3 months with nothing to do but read this book I might find something valuable in it
Uthpala Dassanayake
It is unnecessarily long! After reading all 567 pages, I can’t think of anything else to say about the book.
Mili Legge
This book was one of my first books that I have read ,when I arrived to Australia 44 years ago. Patrick White showed me the life in Australia, that was new
and different to anything I've ever imagined. I've just read the book again and I was pleasantly surprised , that my understanding of English language 44 years ago, was much better then I thought. I loved the book , Patrick introduced me to a country ,that I've learned to love and enjoy.
Aug 15, 2015 Steve rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Low 2. Despite the title this is not an incisive exploration of the influence of the artist's psyche on his body of work as the author's prose all too often obstructs. White has also made his protagonist, Hurtle Duffield, far too unappealing. Uprooted from his poor background, this artist cruelly dissects the deformities of his models but the author fails to achieve the same with his own subject.
Mara Myers
Wanted to finish to see how the story played out but was disappointed by the difficult to follow, stream of consciousness narrative style. Talented writer but I didn't enjoy the story. Did think it was interesting to learn how the mind of a painter thinks.
Jul 26, 2013 Katie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Patrick White was the author I loved to hate when we were forced to read him back in English Lit. I said as much to a customer a month or so ago, and he pointed out that maybe reading him as an adult would be a different experience and suggested that I read this. An absolute stunner of a book, this is everything I love about GOOD literature.
May 25, 2013 Tagra rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm giving up. I'm 100 pages in and nothing has happened. I peeked and it seems like very few of the ~600 pages actually spend time advancing plot. I got the gist of it from a synopsis, so I think I'll call it here and move on. Maybe I'll try again another day, but most likely not... I have other things to do.
Aug 23, 2015 Anneb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-read
I first read this 30 years ago and thought it excellent. This time around, I took my time, savoured perfect imagery and wonderful writing along with further understanding each character. I love Patrick White's humour - he can make me both cringe and laugh at the same time. This is the perfect gothic Sydney novel.
Aug 26, 2008 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A portrait of the artist as a child, a young man, an adult, and a geriatric. This sprawling novel chronicles the life of a painter named Hurtle Duffield, born into an Australian slum but shipped off to live with an aristocratic family. Dark, brilliantly composed, and engrossing.
Gary Daly
Jan 09, 2014 Gary Daly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The more I read Patrick White the more I want more
Lauren Albert
May 22, 2010 Lauren Albert rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Pretentious and arrogant like its "hero." Appallingly long at 600 pages, I found myself skimming the last 200 pages. It is very painful to spend 600 pages with such a tedious and obnoxious character. Reminded me of D.H. Lawrence, which is not a compliment in my book.
Kevin Tole
A fantastic book which yet again shows the power of Patrick White's writing. The character studies of all the characters are so wonderfully detailed. He elucidates the process of art through the all-seeing eye.This is worth every page of it's 700 odd pages.
Elizabeth Bradley
Feb 09, 2011 Elizabeth Bradley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why didn't anyone tell me about Patrick White before? This was utterly fantastic. Don't read the book jacket, which will lead you to believe that you'll hate the artist-protagonist - - just read the book (and you won't). Diamond-bright and diamond-hard.
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Salon des Refusés: The Vivisector 1 6 Apr 02, 2012 08:39AM  
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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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“There's nothing so inhuman as a human being.” 8 likes
“They walked on rather aimlessly. He hoped she wouldn't notice he was touched, because he wouldn't have known how to explain why. Here lay the great discrepancy between aesthetic truth and sleazy reality.” 6 likes
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