Reading Corporeality in Patrick White’s Fiction

An Abject Dictatorship of the Flesh


In Reading Corporeality in Patrick White’s Fiction: An Abject Dictatorship of the Flesh, Bridget Grogan combines theoretical explication, textual comparison, and close reading to argue that corporeality is central to Patrick White’s fiction, shaping the characterization, style, narrative trajectories, and implicit philosophy of his novels and short stories. Critics have often identified a radical disgust at play in White’s writing, claiming that it arises from a defining dualism that posits the ‘purity’ of the disembodied ‘spirit’ in relation to the ‘pollution’ of the material world. Grogan argues convincingly, however, that White’s fiction is far more complex in its approach to the body. Modeling ways in which Kristevan theory may be applied to modern fiction, her close attention to White’s recurring interest in physicality and abjection draws attention to his complex questioning of metaphysics and subjectivity, thereby providing a fresh and compelling reading of this important world author.

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Preliminary Material
Pages: I–VIII
Pages: 1–17
Mind/Body Dualism
History, Modernity, Criticism
Pages: 50–99
Pulsating Prose
Pages: 100–127
The Body Imprisoned
Social Control and Corporeal Subversion
Pages: 128–161
Ladies and Gentlemen?
The Corporeal Subversion of Identity in The Aunt’s Story and The Twyborn Affair
Pages: 162–180
Abject Corporeality and Somatic Spirituality
Voss and The Eye of the Storm
Pages: 212–243
Unifying the Fragments
Pages: 244–258
Works Cited
Pages: 259–269
Pages: 270–278
BRIDGET GROGAN, Ph.D. (2013, Rhodes University) is a Senior Lecturer in the University of Johannesburg’s Department of English. She has published a number of articles on Patrick White and, more generally, on Australian literature, South African literature, and psychoanalysis. This is her first monograph.
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