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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars STUNNING
No words to do justice to the experience I had reading this novel. Having worked my way through THE TREE OF MAN and VOSS I thought I knew what to expect from RIDERS IN THE CHARIOT. How wrong I was. Never have I been so moved or inspired by a book.

This is an epic in every meaning of the word. Not just epic in its sweep within time and space, taking in WW2,...
Published on 1 July 2011 by JakeThePeg

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars quality of print
The printing quality of my copy is bad all through the volume: generally on the left page (while reading) several characters in a word, (and this in a very irregular way) will be blurred or utterly arased. Which makes the reading rather tiring.
Published on 20 Feb. 2010 by Mme I. Lacassagnere


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars STUNNING, 1 July 2011
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This review is from: Riders In The Chariot (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
No words to do justice to the experience I had reading this novel. Having worked my way through THE TREE OF MAN and VOSS I thought I knew what to expect from RIDERS IN THE CHARIOT. How wrong I was. Never have I been so moved or inspired by a book.

This is an epic in every meaning of the word. Not just epic in its sweep within time and space, taking in WW2, Europe, Australia, the Holocaust etc, but epic in its emotion and spiritual vision. White pulls of what so few novelists even attempt, a compelling expression of the Mystic Vision. The imagery of the Chariot (or Merkavah, to use its Hebrew name), which the four main characters share stands out like a cathedral in the book as the perfect metaphor for the Transcendent. If you are interested in mysticism, this is the book for you, as it is steeped in Judaic, Kabbalistic and Christian mystical imagery, but far from being airy-fairy or intangible, it is a concrete, as real, if not more real, than the meticulously detailed and fully realised material world of Australia and pre-War Germany White evokes. And if you are not interested in mysticism, this is the book for you too, as nowhere does any of this imagery work more powerfully than simply a symbol of the human spirit.

No book has ever spoken of the tension between the ecstatic vision and the numbing and brutal experience of being in a world which does not understand it so powerfully as this book did for me. Its characters are unforgettable, and although the vision of a world which is filled with darkness is powerfully vivid, White still finds space for immense compassion in his descriptions of it. Even his negative characters have flashes of insight and humanity. And his constant series of epiphanies in Nature unfailingly take the breath away.

Although tragic in scope, the book also has a deep resilience and belief in the Spirit to somehow endure. RIDERS IN THE CHARIOT is up there with Dostoyevsky, Lawrence, Tolstoy and others in its ability to mix the transcendent and the mystical with the ordinary. This book is vast. White was a genius, and one who somehow managed to overcome his own black pain and anger to still express a hope in something more.

Go read. One of the least-known masterpieces of the last or any other century...
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A work of great humanity, 12 Jun. 2009
This review is from: Riders In The Chariot (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
In a lifetime obsession with books, I have read few that come near to this. Epic, but extraordinarily down to earth. Ironic, gently probing, teeming with phrases and metaphors which intrigue and quietly challenge. It is a joy to read, just to savour the writing of it. It has been described as an exploration of good and evil, but it is so much more. For no good reason, my copy had been on my bookshelves, unread, for about five years. You need to be ready for it, to have time, but don't put this off, as it is wonderfully rewarding. Genius is an over-used word, but not here.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great Australian Novel, 10 April 2009
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This is the great Australian novel: a vast, poetic epic which crosses continents but ultimately resides in Australia. White's characters are all illuminated by a vision of a chariot: a simple-headed heiress living in the ruins of her vast family home, a Jewish intellectual and Holocaust survivor doing manual labour in the local factory, an aboriginal artist and drunk, a wise but poor mother from the Norfolk broads. This is a book to be read slowly, savouring the briliance of White's sentences.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riders in the Chariot - Patrick White, 3 Feb. 2013
By 
RachelWalker "RachelW" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Riders In The Chariot (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
I am always, always conflicted about Patrick White. I am pretty certain that he is one of the greatest writers ever to put pen to paper, however he's almost the definition of a "difficult" writer. Reading his books is like staring into a huge cloud of ever-switching hues. Reading him, and particularly this and his larger works, I feel like I am clawing at the base of a monolith to try and bring it down. Whether you enjoy reading him or not will therefore be contingent on whether you like that type of reading experience!

You feel like you are in the undisputed presence of greatness, a quality so vast that it's almost unknowable. His books are rich, dense, brilliantly written, epic yet also sometimes focusing on the tiniest of human experiences. I feel edified to read them, but I don't always entirely get them. I am certain that several of its qualities have passed me by. Which is testament to how many qualities they actually have! I however like that type of experience: I feel challenged, somewhat puzzled, as if i've experienced something significant that I won't understand until some point in the future. If you don't enjoy that type of experience, then Patrick White is possibly not for you - if you do however then you are in for the ride of your life!
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Of epic scope and mystical significance.,, 10 Nov. 2002
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Riders In The Chariot (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
This deceptively complex and tension-filled Australian novel begins as the straightforward story of Mary Hare, a strange, half-mad spinster who lives in Xanadu, a crumbling "pleasure dome," with the busybody Mrs. Jolley, a servant she fears. At various times in her meanderings, Mary meets a kind laundress named Mrs. Godbold, who lives in a shed with her nine children; Alf Dubbo, an often-drunk aborigine artist; and Mordecai Himmelfarb, a Jewish concentration camp survivor who has emigrated to Australia and now works in a machine shop.
In succeeding sections, in which these characters overlap, their intricate interior lives are developed in colorful, memorable detail, and the reader quickly sees that each is a lonely survivor of some traumatic experience which has made him/her question the nature of good and evil. Each hopes to unravel some of the mysteries at the center of the universe. Remarkably, all of them have experienced the same apocalyptic vision of a chariot being drawn by four horses galloping into a shimmering future.
In the hands of a lesser writer, the characters, their daily lives, and their vision of the chariot might have been presented in a sentimental or romantic way, or even been used to illustrate the author's religious views. But White's view of the chariot and its importance is far subtler--and more enigmatic--than that, and its role in the lives of these characters is both unsentimental and haunting. Tantalizing parallels between the vision of the chariot and the mysteries of Revelations, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and the Seven Seals, along with Biblical warnings about blood, fire, and destruction will keep a symbol-hunter totally engaged. At the same time, more literal readers will find the stories and characters so firmly grounded in the reality of 1960's Australia, that they are captivating in their own right and may be taken, and thoroughly enjoyed, at face value.
This is a huge novel, an old-fashioned saga of fascinating characters living their lives the best way they can, while wrestling with issues of epic significance. The author's primary concern with telling a good story never falters, despite the overlay of mysticism, and the leisurely pace and fully realized dramatic action make this a totally fulfilling reading experience. Mary Whipple
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A vision of modern Hell, redeemed, 3 April 2013
By 
RIDERS IN THE CHARIOT, Patrick White's sixth novel, is a humbling read. I'm struck by how often reputation and a sententious award (in this case, the Nobel Prize for Literature) can occlude a writer's works to such an extent that the main stream of literature will roll burbling on, its complaisant surface unruffled by the rather large, partly submerged rock that is that individually staggering talent.

The book details the past lives of four `Australian' mis-fits, and the convergence of their presents in the sterile Sydney suburb of Sarsaparilla. The characters are Miss Hare, an ageing spinster living in a dilapidated mansion suggestively known as Xanadu and who scuffles and scurries through the undergrowth; Dubbo, a prodigiously talented, half-caste painter who washes up in the fictional town of Sarsaparilla; Himmerlfarb, an archetypal Wandering Jew and Holocaust refugee; and the wondrously-named Mrs. Godbold, who is a deep well of Christ-like empathy.

The novel is an obvious re-telling of the Crucifixion story, but one which displaces, fractures and mirrors Christ into three of the four protagonists. Dubbo himself displaces the Wandering Jew's role as Historical Witness by himself witnessing Himmelfarb's crucifixion and denial - like Peter - of the victim. The novel is weightily symbolic; and employs a variety of voices and narrative techniques to engage and entertain the reader. At its core, it is both horrific, and horrifically comedic. White is merciless in his lampooning of then-contemporary Sydney `society'. He lances with the sharpest of blades all the petty pretentions of a myriad of Australian post-War social groups, whether Worker, Owner, Rentier or Priest.

It is almost a cliché of literary types that the hyper-aesthete homosexual writer will excel at wielding the diamond-sharp, eviscerating knife of social commentary whilst maintaining a suitably aloof, slightly disgusted posture. No so White. His humanity and love of these outcasts is heart-rending. Mrs. Godbold and Miss Hare are transcendent creations who linger long after their `flickering' has come to an end. This is a truly beautiful novel. I can't recommend it highly enough and I look forward with relish to reading White's other novels.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars highly memorable, 25 Sept. 2011
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This review is from: Riders In The Chariot (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
The main narrative of this novel takes place in Australia over a few weeks (I think) culminating in a set of events over Easter in what seems to be a smallish set of settlements in the years following the second world war. I could say it's a bit distracting to spend the first part of the novel following the life-history of Miss Hare, the second part following the life history of HImmelfarb, the third Mrs Godbold and fourth Alf Dubbo - for the four characters only come together for a few moments towards the end of the book.

But the critical thing, for me, is that there are scenes and images in this book that will stay with me for a long time - which I can't say of too many novels I've read in recent times. They occur regularly throughout the book. And the four stories, and the multiple minor characters in present-day Australia, give a real sense of history. And then there is White's writing. Not something I think to try when commuting to the office. But given relaxing conditions, something to read slowly and cherish.

Overall, then, I would very strongly recommend this.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic scope and mystical significance., 26 Dec. 2002
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This deceptively complex and tension-filled Australian novel begins as the straightforward story of Mary Hare, a strange, half-mad spinster who lives in Xanadu, a crumbling "pleasure dome," with the busybody Mrs. Jolley, a servant she fears. At various times in her meanderings, Mary meets a kind laundress named Mrs. Godbold, who lives in a shed with her nine children; Alf Dubbo, an often-drunk aborigine artist; and Mordecai Himmelfarb, a Jewish concentration camp survivor who has emigrated to Australia and now works in a machine shop.
In succeeding sections, in which these characters overlap, their intricate interior lives are developed in colorful, memorable detail, and the reader quickly sees that each is a lonely survivor of some traumatic experience which has made him/her question the nature of good and evil. Each hopes to unravel some of the mysteries at the center of the universe. Remarkably, all of them have experienced the same apocalyptic vision of a chariot being drawn by four horses galloping into a shimmering future.
In the hands of a lesser writer, the characters, their daily lives, and their vision of the chariot might have been presented in a sentimental or romantic way, or even been used to illustrate the author's religious views. But White's view of the chariot and its importance is far subtler--and more enigmatic--than that, and its role in the lives of these characters is both unsentimental and haunting. Tantalizing parallels between the vision of the chariot and the mysteries of Revelations, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and the Seven Seals, along with Biblical warnings about blood, fire, and destruction will keep a symbol-hunter totally engaged. At the same time, more literal readers will find the stories and characters so firmly grounded in the reality of 1960's Australia, that they are captivating in their own right and may be taken, and thoroughly enjoyed, at face value.
This is a huge novel, an old-fashioned saga of fascinating characters living their lives the best way they can, while wrestling with issues of epic significance. The author's primary concern with telling a good story never falters, despite the overlay of mysticism, and the leisurely pace and fully realized dramatic action make this a totally fulfilling reading experience. Mary Whipple
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic scope and mystical significance., 26 Dec. 2002
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This deceptively complex and tension-filled Australian novel begins as the straightforward story of Mary Hare, a strange, half-mad spinster who lives in Xanadu, a crumbling "pleasure dome," with the busybody Mrs. Jolley, a servant she fears. At various times in her meanderings, Mary meets a kind laundress named Mrs. Godbold, who lives in a shed with her nine children; Alf Dubbo, an often-drunk aborigine artist; and Mordecai Himmelfarb, a Jewish concentration camp survivor who has emigrated to Australia and now works in a machine shop.
In succeeding sections, in which these characters overlap, their intricate interior lives are developed in colorful, memorable detail, and the reader quickly sees that each is a lonely survivor of some traumatic experience which has made him/her question the nature of good and evil. Each hopes to unravel some of the mysteries at the center of the universe. Remarkably, all of them have experienced the same apocalyptic vision of a chariot being drawn by four horses galloping into a shimmering future.
In the hands of a lesser writer, the characters, their daily lives, and their vision of the chariot might have been presented in a sentimental or romantic way, or even been used to illustrate the author's religious views. But White's view of the chariot and its importance is far subtler--and more enigmatic--than that, and its role in the lives of these characters is both unsentimental and haunting. Tantalizing parallels between the vision of the chariot and the mysteries of Revelations, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and the Seven Seals, along with Biblical warnings about blood, fire, and destruction will keep a symbol-hunter totally engaged. At the same time, more literal readers will find the stories and characters so firmly grounded in the reality of 1960's Australia, that they are captivating in their own right and may be taken, and thoroughly enjoyed, at face value.
This is a huge novel, an old-fashioned saga of fascinating characters living their lives the best way they can, while wrestling with issues of epic significance. The author's primary concern with telling a good story never falters, despite the overlay of mysticism, and the leisurely pace and fully realized dramatic action make this a totally fulfilling reading experience. Mary Whipple
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars White's great masterpiece, 24 Mar. 2001
This review is from: Riders In The Chariot (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
This is perhaps one of the great novels of the 20th century; it is certainly one of White's best works. Profoundly moving, thoughtful, painful and horrifying by turns, it is quite unlike any other novel I've read. It haunts me still.
A truly extraordinary work.
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Riders In The Chariot (Vintage Classics)
Riders In The Chariot (Vintage Classics) by Patrick White (Paperback - 5 Sept. 1996)
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