April 1, 2012
I just finished VOSS. It is truly a phenomenon. A great work.
I had almost given up on it, stepped away for a few days, picked up another author only to find it too simple, and so I returned to VOSS.
Here are my immediate responses.
I thought of Joseph Conrad’s HEART OF DARKNESS. Hands down, Patrick White out-distanced Conrad by light years.
All along during the reading I periodically thought of Milton’s PARADISE LOST.
VOSS entered a journey into the Valley of Death.
One of the keys in the book came with the following line: “God into man. Man. And man returning to God.”
The journey to discover Australia’s physical interior was really Voss’s journey into self-discovery. But what did he discover?
This novel is an adventure story where everyone perishes. But in this story unlike other adventure stories, where is the representation of brave and noble characters? One would say, they were all foolish to continue on. Colonel Hebden, on his follow-up search, was smart enough to turn back. What was going on in Voss’s mind? The answer lies in his quest. What was it? Surely the test was of himself as the God in man, then man, and man returning to God.
It was a terrible test. Foolish.
But the spirituality, aside from the religious context, was wonderful and gorgeous. The writing performed as befits a Nobel Prize winner. His prize was understandable.
Because the descriptive writing is so incredible, I believe I will pick up the book from time to time, open it anywhere for a dose.
But Patrick White must have been the gloomiest of souls. Would I have wanted to meet him, sit down and have dinner with him? Hmm.