Get 20M+ Full-Text Papers For Less Than $1.50/day. Start a 14-Day Trial for You or Your Team.

Learn More →

The Forces of Habit and the Ethics of Self-Composture in Patrick White’s Fiction

The Forces of Habit and the Ethics of Self-Composture in Patrick White’s Fiction Mica Hilson In an early passage from Patrick White's novel The Twyborn Affair (1979), the protagonist offers a spirited defense of the odors that waft from a man's body: "Even what you call their smelly smells can have a perverse charm. The smell of an old man, for instance. So many layers of life lived--such a compost!" (52). The metaphor of compost for accumulated life experience is quintessential White, drawing inspiration from the natural world, but also celebrating its grossness rather than its supposed purity.1 It also represents a peculiar way of thinking about the "layers of life lived," which might be more conventionally represented as inscriptions upon the body (e.g. the lines on the face that tell a story) or as hard geological layers, solidly encrusted around a stable core. Compost is layered, but the layers are loosely assembled, shifting as the organic matter decomposes and the pile recomposes itself accordingly. Tellingly, the novel's protagonist delivers this paean to self-as-compost while living as Eudoxia Vatatzes, partner to a wealthy older Greek man; however, she was born as Eddie Twyborn, an identity she later reassumes when living in rural Australia as a jackaroo, before heading back to Europe http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Comparatist University of North Carolina Press

The Forces of Habit and the Ethics of Self-Composture in Patrick White’s Fiction

The Comparatist , Volume 40 – Nov 11, 2016

Loading next page...
 
/lp/university-of-north-carolina-press/the-forces-of-habit-and-the-ethics-of-self-composture-in-patrick-white-0bGTwyt6mg
Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © Southern Comparative Literature Association.
ISSN
1559-0887
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Mica Hilson In an early passage from Patrick White's novel The Twyborn Affair (1979), the protagonist offers a spirited defense of the odors that waft from a man's body: "Even what you call their smelly smells can have a perverse charm. The smell of an old man, for instance. So many layers of life lived--such a compost!" (52). The metaphor of compost for accumulated life experience is quintessential White, drawing inspiration from the natural world, but also celebrating its grossness rather than its supposed purity.1 It also represents a peculiar way of thinking about the "layers of life lived," which might be more conventionally represented as inscriptions upon the body (e.g. the lines on the face that tell a story) or as hard geological layers, solidly encrusted around a stable core. Compost is layered, but the layers are loosely assembled, shifting as the organic matter decomposes and the pile recomposes itself accordingly. Tellingly, the novel's protagonist delivers this paean to self-as-compost while living as Eudoxia Vatatzes, partner to a wealthy older Greek man; however, she was born as Eddie Twyborn, an identity she later reassumes when living in rural Australia as a jackaroo, before heading back to Europe

Journal

The ComparatistUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Nov 11, 2016

There are no references for this article.