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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great novels
This epic about a man's journey into the heart of the Australian desert and into his own heart and mind is a classic of modern literature. Johann Ulrich Voss, though he remains always just beyond the reader's grasp as a character, is as memorable as any great figure in modern literature. If Marlow and Kurtz in Heart of Darkness were one man, this would be him.
The...
Published on 11 May 2004 by Adam Kelly

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12 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me
Given the recent controversy over the readability of literary prize-winning books, and the make-up of juries, perhaps I am not surprised that I found this novel difficult to get into. Indeed I gave up after 113 pages. I was much looking forward to reading about colonial Australia, but this much into the book I found I was none the wiser. Moreover, I was intensely...
Published on 19 Oct 2008 by Josquine


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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great novels, 11 May 2004
By 
Adam Kelly (Dublin, Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Voss (Paperback)
This epic about a man's journey into the heart of the Australian desert and into his own heart and mind is a classic of modern literature. Johann Ulrich Voss, though he remains always just beyond the reader's grasp as a character, is as memorable as any great figure in modern literature. If Marlow and Kurtz in Heart of Darkness were one man, this would be him.
The novel is also a love story about two people who go beyond the mediocrity of their surroundings to embark on interior journeys where they learn to know themselves and unite with each other in spirit.
For 80% of the novel I was gripped, running home from college to read more and more. My only qualm would be the ending, as the tension dissipates and the last 80 pages or so peter out under the excessive Christian symbolism. But there is no way that a potential reader should be put off by this assessment
Sentence for sentence, word for word, Patrick White is as good a prose stylist as I've ever read. The phrase "tour de force" could have been invented for this book.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An insightful and witty examination of a human condition., 28 Feb 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Voss (Paperback)
Voss is a story of a difficult relationship between a man`s dreams and reality, in which they cannot be fulfilled. Detailed descriptions of colonial life in Sydney and lirycal depictions of the outback serve merely as a background to an investigation into human nature. White analyses the feelings and motivations of his characters with wisdom and psychological insight, but beneath the veneer of great style lies a fundamental question of belonging. The characters` lives revolve around the theme of inadequacy - being an outcast,a foreigner,a troubled spirit. The author indicates the difficulty of a human condition, where not only do we have to face the socially created system of restraints, but also to accept our weakness to the forces of nature. White`s novel is a rewarding piece of literature, depicting the power of nature and human instincts over reason and strict moral rules with great wit and compassion towards our imperfections. A must.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "When man is truly humbled, when he has learned that he is not God, then he is nearest to becoming so.", 30 Dec 2012
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Voss (Paperback)
Nobel Prize-winner Patrick White's genius for story-telling is on full display in this big, old-fashioned saga of Australia, filled with intriguing characters exploring the difficult terrain of their inner lives. For a number of characters, all male, that personal inner journey is also part of a daring adventure they make into the interior of Australia in the mid-nineteenth century, an area previously unexplored by the white people who have recently discovered this continent. The female characters in Sydney during this same period have a far more difficult time exploring their inner natures, even if they are interested in doing so. As the daughters and wives of successful merchants or entrepreneurs, their educations have been in the social graces far more than in academic learning, and their roles are pre-determined.

Despite the time, setting, vibrant descriptions of nature, and love story, this novel is far from romantic, due to White's choices for his two main characters, Johan Ulrich Voss, a German immigrant (modeled on the real explorer Ludwig Leichhardt from Prussia) who has left Germany to explore and discover new species, and Laura Trevelyan, an orphan who has come to Australia from England to live with her aunt and uncle in Sydney. Laura, who meets Voss the week before he is to sail, is quiet and studious rather than flirtatious. Her initial conversations with Voss intrigue her, though she is not particularly attracted to him, nor he to her. Their meeting, however, has complex and subtle overtones, and they connect somehow on levels beneath the surface.

White develops their story by alternating their two points of view - Voss and his men, as they travel across the north of the country, and Laura as she looks for purpose among the ladies of Sydney. Voss's trials are epic as he and his men look for almost non-existent food and water in the desert interior. Throughout all their privations, the author shares their philosophical queries about life and its meaning, and the grand questions of the universe which become more pressing as their circumstances become more dire. Two aborigine men accompany the expedition as guides, and the men discover aborigine family groups living relatively successfully in the interior even as the explorers themselves are starving. The aborigines enjoy a complex value system celebrated in rock paintings and ceremonies filled with respect for nature, and their experience with the few whites with whom they have had contact has made them careful observers of whites, wary of their intentions. In the meantime, Laura's story in Sydney changes completely when she daringly assumes a role which no one else among her social set has ever dreamed of accepting - and which will end any possibility of her becoming part of traditional Sydney life.

White has created a complete and complex story of Australia which few readers will forget. The novel is satisfying on every level, thematically, historically, and emotionally, and the characters are memorable. His descriptions are unparalleled, especially in the clever, often satiric presentations of some of the more unpleasant characters, introduced only briefly. As White brings the story of the expedition up to date in the conclusion, he resolves many questions, and in the witty and ironic epilogue which takes place twenty years later, he shows how his characters have dealt with their lives. As Laura remarks, "Knowledge [is] never a matter of geography. Quite the reverse, it overflows all the maps that exist."
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great novels, 11 May 2004
By 
Adam Kelly (Dublin, Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Voss (Paperback)
This epic about a man's journey into the heart of the Australian desert and into his own heart and mind is a classic of modern literature. Johann Ulrich Voss, though he remains always just beyond the reader's grasp as a character, is as memorable as any great figure in modern literature. If Marlow and Kurtz in Heart of Darkness were one man, this would be him.
The novel is also a love story about two people who go beyond the mediocrity of their surroundings to embark on interior journeys where they learn to know themselves and unite with each other in spirit.
For 80% of the novel I was gripped, running home from college to read more and more. My only qualm would be the ending, as the tension dissipates and the last 80 pages or so peter out under the excessive Christian symbolism. But there is no way that a potential reader should be put off by this assessment
Sentence for sentence, word for word, Patrick White is as good a prose stylist as I've ever read. The phrase "tour de force" could have been invented for this book.
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12 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me, 19 Oct 2008
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This review is from: Voss (Paperback)
Given the recent controversy over the readability of literary prize-winning books, and the make-up of juries, perhaps I am not surprised that I found this novel difficult to get into. Indeed I gave up after 113 pages. I was much looking forward to reading about colonial Australia, but this much into the book I found I was none the wiser. Moreover, I was intensely irritated both by the fact that every slightest physical gesture is interpreted as Deeply Meaningful, and by the sheer number of adjectives per noun. No doubt this makes me a very superficial reader, but may others like me be warned.
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Voss by Patrick White (Paperback - 21 July 1994)
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