Patrick White
The Solid Mandala by Patrick White

In a letter to the writer Ingmar Björkstén in early 1973, the Australian novelist Patrick White wrote that he felt very close to The Solid Mandala “because it conveys a certain nightmarish quality of life which I have experienced, though the incidents in the novel are hardly parallel to anything in my actual life”. To his publisher at Viking Press, Marshall Best, he wrote in 1965 that the writing of the book “has certainly torn me to shreds”. White’s biographer Andrew Marr, surveying what he discovered about the author when he was writing The Solid Mandala, observed that “White’s search for serenity was all the more urgent for the hate that was pouring out of him into the pages” of the book. You have been warned. The Solid Mandala is anything but a comfortable read.

The setting is the same Sarsaparilla of Riders in the Chariot (a separate post on this site), a fictional suburb of Sydney. We soon encounter this hatred. It lurks under the surface of much of White’s prose and disturbingly bursts out without warning. Even on the second page, where the acquaintance of Mrs Poulter and Mrs Dun “had not been proved unbreakable”, White unsettles us with the observation that “it was perhaps doubtful whether anyone would ever notice Mrs Poulter or Mrs Dun unless life took its cleaver to them” (p. 12). Menace is in the air. It might strike not just behind closed suburban doors, but in broad daylight on the bus from Sarsaparilla. Mrs Poulter, who lives opposite the book’s main characters, the brothers Waldo and Arthur Brown, passes judgement about their unkempt hedge which had “grown thick”. Mrs Dun sees the advantage of privacy that a hedge confers on a property but acknowledges that there are times when you might want to be seen, “when someone’s got you by the throat” (p. 15).

I am rediscovering the way in which Patrick White fitted out his novels with a structure appropriate to each. The Tree of Man unfolded in one continuous sequence with no temporal dislocation. The long span of Stan and Amy Parker’s lives was a slo-mo that needed no artifice. Voss needed a twin-track approach which followed the eponymous (anti-)hero and Laura Trevelyan, in desert and suburb respectively, with chapters appropriately alternating this geography whilst maintaining a linear progression. The letter-writing between the two of them helped build this twin-track dynamic. Riders in the Chariot, a novel of substantial complexity, required a central, grounded narrative that bound four characters within the Sarsaparilla and Barranugli suburbs, but necessitated four digressions that told the life stories of these four characters, interspersed within the main story. White thought of Riders as a cantata comprised of solos and duets

The Solid Mandala, which tells the story of twin brothers Waldo and Arthur Brown, devotes one lengthy chapter to each, and bookends these with a short prologue where both brothers are seen through the partial vision of Mesdames Poulter and Dun, and a short epilogue concentrated on Mrs Poulter who, by the end, has been seared by the preceding events. The locus of the story is local, mostly domestic. The feel of the narrative is almost claustrophobic, certainly psychological. What we learn of both brothers is complemented by their different narratives; their dependency on each other is suffocatingly established. The numbers two (for the principal characters) and four (for the number of chapters) become clear in the telling. Hatred seems to be the glue that binds the first part of this structural system.

Waldo and Arthur Brown

Waldo and Arthur are twin brothers. Chapter two, entitled Waldo, is Waldo’s account of his own life from childhood to old age. Chapter three, entitled Arthur, does the same for Arthur. This deceptively simple arrangement conceals, then reveals, the novel’s idiosyncratic power. Although we might initially accept Waldo’s view of the pair for what it is, when we get to Arthur’s version we see subtle and profoundly shocking differences in our understanding of the two characters. Peter Beatson, in his The Eye in the Mandala, observed that whereas Arthur’s section “develops smoothly from childhood to old age”, the form of Waldo’s section, by contrast, is “mimetic, imitating in its fragmented and obsessive assertion of incidents from the past the disintegrated condition of Waldo’s mind” (Beatson, p. 71). This distinction is essential to a fuller understanding of the book. It also makes The Solid Mandala a far from easy read as this fragmentation of the early stages of the narrative, by far the longest section of the book, is a choppy experience that requires steady concentration to navigate and digest. Not until we reach the book’s closing pages do we better appreciate that the narrative established by Waldo, with all its dislocated upwellings from his past, is a tale of neurosis compared to the calm perceptiveness of his supposedly subnormal brother Arthur.

Our attention catches on the contrasting details of the two brothers. Waldo is “cold”; Arthur is “warm-hearted” and surprisingly defensive of his “smarter” brother. Waldo’s “rational” nature contrasts with Arthur’s “instinctual” nature. Waldo considers Arthur to be “a dill” (p. 46). He is his “club foot” (p. 47), causing him to limp around. Arthur is slightly-retarded, “a shingle short” (p. 82); he admits that he is rather clumsy, barges around and knocks things over: “sometimes those things are standing in my way” (p. 82). Waldo’s slight build and short stature makes them easy to tell apart next to Arthur’s heavy build and “blubbery” presence. The stiff and impermeable oilskin that Waldo wears, which “sounded slithery with speed”, bestows imperviousness on his character, whereas Arthur’s herringbone coat attracts the stains and wear of daily use that suggests receptiveness. Waldo’s weakness at maths (p. 81) is trumped by Arthur’s gift for figures. Waldo spoke English (p. 218) to reflect his background (the family moved to Australia when the boys were infants) and to signal his supposed intellectual superiority but Arthur “spoke in Australian”. The former passed his exams at 17 “with Flying Colours” and immediately went to work in the Sydney Municipal Library, whereas Arthur ended up working in a small store. The stare of Waldo’s blue eyes (to match his mother’s) is met by the more bovine, brown colour of his brother Arthur’s. The former is interested in words (p. 220); the latter in people. To Mrs Poulter on the bus, these adults holding hands are “poofteroos”, a slight that White allowed himself to reflect the pre-PC Australia of the period.

Waldo Brown

As Waldo Brown’s view of his world gets under way, the hatred continues to be evident, often through violent imagery. “The western horizon was a thin strangling, copper wire” (p. 39). In Sarsaparilla, Mrs Brown observes, after church on a Sunday people go home “to sharpen knives for the week” (p. 49). These are not carving knives being readied to slice the Sunday roast; “for the week” heralds the potential of broader suburban carnage. When Waldo trod on a brown slug, he “was able to relieve his feelings. As he crushed the slug, his own despair writhed and shrivelled up” (p. 55). Jealous that his brother seemed to be favoured by nearby Mrs Feinstein, “Waldo could only sit holding his kneecaps, from which sharp blades had shot out on Arthur’s re-appearance” (p. 134). As her daughter, Dulcie, played Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, Waldo mused that Beethoven “was a mightily unpleasant old man, writing music on a lavatory wall”, as if diminishing what the young Dulcie was attempting. When she gives up playing, saying that she couldn’t go any farther, Waldo thought “she had walked out between storms. Branches still wet and aggressive had hit her in the face” (p. 137), a violently dismissive reaction. Waldo’s misanthropy surfaced again after the twins had left the Feinsteins and Waldo’s mind flashed back to when Mr and Mrs Poulter first became their neighbours (in 1920):

The woman, more noticeably fleshed, had stupid-looking calves, which Waldo thought he would have liked to slap if he had been following her up a flight of stairs. Slap slap. To make her hop. (The Solid Mandala, p. 140-1)

Passed as judgement on someone whom Waldo had never met, only seen across the road from his family’s home, this speaks volumes of Waldo’s personality. The violent nature of it is shocking - but of a piece. Attempting awkwardly to get to know Mr Poulter, Waldo crosses the road to speak to him, taking with him a book for Mr Poulter to read, “something quite simple and primitive, Fennimore Cooper … The Deerslayer”, but Mr Poulter declines the offer. “Never have the time,” he says. Waldo coldly retorts, “Then there’s nothing I can do for you”, before White added, “But Waldo did not hate Bill, not exactly, or not yet” (p. 144). The inexorability of the hatred that Waldo will feel for Bill Poulter is clear. When Dulcie (note the sweetness of the name) Feinstein rejects Waldo’s offer of marriage, he takes his leave of her on the porch and was “tempted to look back again, to see whether his scorn had knocked her bleeding to the steps” (p. 158). The latent violence lurking beneath the surface of Waldo’s character is worked up by White to the point that the reader expects something terrible.

This potentiality for a murder committed by Waldo persists and the hatred we saw at the start of the book continues to colour his view of the world. The list of what Waldo hates is lengthy: faces, the librarian Crankshaw and “all his priests”, his brother Arthur whom he also “loathed”, of course, and Arthur’s dogs Runty and Scruffy, his childhood friend Johnny Haynes, and cows (because Arthur liked them and performed his Greek play about cows). He despised his “pitiful father”. The hatred that David Marr cites in his masterful biography of White is caked onto the character of Waldo.

Waldo’s defects come thick and fast. He itemises what he would do if Arthur died. He would travel, drive fast cars, sleep with fast women, get the pox and not seek a cure for it. He would “blow everything the first editions of Thomas Hardy the whole Everyman Library quite a curiosity nowadays Mother’s spoons with crests on them the emerald ring” as White put it in one fabulous stream of consciousness. Waldo’s colleague at the library, Wally, “his superior by eighteen months”, enlisted for service, Waldo remembers, and in a head-turning fashion White had Waldo think the following as a single paragraph:

(Wally, in fact, was so good at war he got killed for it, and they sent a medal to Cis.)
(The Solid Mandala, p. 128)

Indeed, this comes bracketed, as shown. What are we to make of this casual, callous interjection? That White was demoting the fact before going on to recount the few days when Waldo and Wally hit the town before Wally went off to war, never to come back? Or was this Waldo, factually recording the basics entirely without emotion? It’s an arresting nugget, simultaneously indigestible and disturbing. Waldo comes over as a soulless auditor of his life’s history, nothing more.

Waldo’s dispassion is ever-present and gains additional power when White shows the librarian at work among the book stacks encountering some lines from Tennyson’s Fatima, lines typically charged with emotion, swooning, dazzling. Waldo read seven lines ending in “The skies stoop down in their desire …” before he is overcome by “the daring of the words”:

He shut the book so quick, so tight, the explosion might have been heard by anyone coming to catch him at something forbidden disgraceful and which he would never dare again until he could no longer resist. He looked round, but found nobody else in the stacks. Only books. A throbbing of books. He went to the lavatory to wash his hot and sticky hands.

So the life had its compensations, an orgasm in dry places, a delicious guilt of the intellect. It made him superior to poor Dad, whose innocence from a previous age must have denied him even the vicarious sensuality of literature. (The Solid Mandala, p. 122)

This bottling-up of Waldo’s inner sensuality goes a long way to explaining his rectitude and dispassion, and reaches its apogee when White embarks on a sequence of no more than ten pages towards the end of the chapter devoted to Waldo. There are three reveals. First, in a luridly surreal episode, Waldo dresses up in a blue dress of his dead mother. “It was a dress for those great occasions of which few are worthy.”

How his heart contracted inside the blue, reverberating ice, at the little pizzicato of the irridescent fan as it cut compliments to size and order. (The Solid Mandala, p. 192)

Imagining himself to be his mother, luxuriating in the reflection of her that radiates back at him out of the mirror, the perversion is nearly complete, until the sound of his brother Arthur bumbling through the house looking for his dogs interrupts the reverie. White’s prose screeches through the scene, culminating in, “Was he caught?” It’s a question whose answer awaits ninety pages away.

The second reveal has Arthur reading a sheet of paper in front of Waldo, evidently a copy of the Fatima poem that Waldo must have copied. Waldo is stunned when Arthur blurts out, “Tennyson wrote some pretty good poetry”, adding that he recognises Waldo’s handwriting. Waldo’s response is to belittle Tennyson as “everybody’s property” and is derisory when Arthur says that he also reads Shakespeare. “But you can’t understand Shakespeare,” he retorted. After the numerous years of their shared lives, the shock to Waldo is destabilising.

Soon after, at work in the library, the third reveal is when Waldo’s attention is drawn by a colleague to “an old bloke catching up on his reading” in the reading room. Apparently, he is a regular visitor who has a rarified diet that includes the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, Japanese Zen, “eroto-logical works!”, Alice Through the Looking Glass and on that occasion he was “back on” The Brothers Karamazov. Waldo is asked to investigate.

Finding that it is his brother Arthur hunched over Dostoevsky in “his” library, Waldo confronts him and there follows a dramatic exchange before Waldo has him ejected from the library. “You will leave this place, please, at once” … “and added very loudly: ‘sir’ ” (p. 201), in a public denial of their brotherhood. The tension is extraordinary.

Shortly after the third of these reveals, Waldo decided that Arthur had to die.

Arthur Brown

With Waldo’s chapter running to 192 pages, it’s perhaps surprising that Arthur’s chapter runs to less than half of that, at 81 pages. This is partly because most of the major events which White needs to tell from Arthur’s point of view had already been fleshed out through Waldo’s eyes. Arthur’s chapter tells those events from his eyes. The differences between these two perspectives give the novel its power. We see Arthur keeping his thoughts to himself. As Waldo’s club foot, the “dill”, we expect his vision of the world to be less sophisticated that Waldo’s, so the surprise that this isn’t the case is worth waiting for. His emotional, empathic skills - even if imperfectly expressed - make the two brothers foils for each other. We find out whether Arthur had seen Waldo dressed in their mother’s blue dress. We also see Arthur’s side of the explosive episode in the library when Waldo was unable to tolerate Arthur’s secret engagement with literature. Waldo’s derisory approach to Arthur is met in this second telling by a calm and loving Arthur whose every motive seems to be twisted by his more intellectually agile twin. If a single demonstration of White’s skill at narrative is sought, it can be found right here. One almost wants the two tellings of the same encounter to be laid out side by side to enable detailed comparison. The lines included in one telling and omitted from the other make the episodes tessellate. What one initially thought of as cruelty in the extreme on the part of Waldo is doubly so when Arthur’s kinder, calmer intentions are made plain.

Arthur Brown, a kind of simpleton, becomes another of White’s sufferers, the butt of other people’s abuse and criticism, the absorber of endless injustices. Yet he is understood and liked far better than Waldo ever is, finding friendship from Dulcie Feinstein, her husband to be Leonard Saporta, and, so importantly, with Mrs Poulter, their nearest neighbour and erstwhile gossip-critic. Where Waldo gives Mrs Poulter a doll - because it was going cheap, not because he had identified it as a suitable present for her, Arthur ends up giving her himself, in an act of selfless love, as a sign that he understood what hurt she felt from having lost her first and only baby. Intuition is something gifted to Arthur and denied Waldo. More than intuition too, perhaps, given that Arthur had answered his father’s question of which characters in mythology most interested him with the answer: Tiresias, who had been blinded by Zeus at the age of seven for telling people things they shouldn’t know, was then rewarded with the gifts of prophecy and a life seven times longer than the average. Arthur did indeed tell people things they shouldn’t know, if that is how an idiot-savant operates when, as if ‘on the spectrum’, he blurts out to all and sundry what others might have learned to keep to themselves. For those who come to trust him, Arthur is regarded with affection, a status that Waldo never attains.

Arthur reckoned that “that there were moments that Waldo was as rigid as a closed cupboard, which no one but his brother had learnt the trick of jerking open” (p. 244). He also “sensed on his way through life that only the very clever and the very stupid can dare to be dishonest” (p. 250) and that “there were several answers to most questions” (p. 257). In the end, his dependency on his brother, Waldo, resulted in him saying, “I don’t think, Mrs Poulter, I could live without my brother. He was more than half of me” (p. 311).

Arthur Brown’s mandala marbles

The titular mandala is one of four, all of which Arthur “earned”. They are no different than ones that children play with.

Arthur subsequently refers to his marbles as “my solid mandalas” (p. 55). One day, delivering groceries to a resident in the suburb, a Mrs Musto, Arthur found himself dawdling through Mr Musto’s books, in particular an encyclopaedia. This, of course, is the Arthur whom his librarian brother Waldo considers virtually unable - certainly unfit - to read:

Then his nostrils dilated, with pure animal conviction or else psychic sense his mother hoped she possessed. His hair bristling. His blood racing, his heart thundering, breath thicker … He had found, but only just, what he must have been supposed to find.

… lowering his head he read out loud, pushing the words well forward with his lips, because he almost doubted he would be able to form them, he was so excited: “The mandala is a symbol of totality. It is believed to be the ‘dwelling of the god’. Its protective circle is a pattern of order super-imposed on - psychic - chaos. Sometimes its geometric form is seen as a vision (either waking or in a dream) or -“ His voice had fallen to the most elaborate hush. “Or danced,” Arthur read.
(The Solid Mandala, p. 237-8)

From this point onwards, Arthur’s marbles become his ‘solid mandalas’, talismanic objects of peculiar value to him. White’s adoption of the term ‘mandala’ for Arthur’s marbles stemmed from his interest in the work of the psychologist Carl Jung who encouraged his patients to draw and paint circle drawings that represented “the Self, the wholeness of the personality, which if all goes well is harmonious”. That White has Arthur as the keeper of the mandalas, when Waldo’s personality is - in contrast - fragmented and chaotic, is key to the novel’s form and meaning.

Arthur accumulates instances of mandalic associations. He considers “the world is another mandala” (p. 245). By revolving a marble in his pocket, he is able to make “Dulcie’s lake with the crystal-studded castle to re-appear” (p. 247), invoking the postcard she had sent him years earlier. Of all the rugs that Leonard Saporta shows Arthur, he likes the Turkish one that “has the mandala in the centre” (p. 251). He also sees the Star of David as being yet another mandala (p. 251).

This association - even, obsession - takes a personal form when Arthur identifies that each of the four marbles he carries must be gifted to specific individuals. To Dulcie Feinstein, Arthur gives the solid blue taw mandala. “He had always known the blue mandala would be the one for Dulcie. Her beauty would not evaporate again” (p. 255). Despite the childish origin of the marble, “the blue taw which Norm Croucher had traded for liquorice straps”, the gift binds them to each other at a spiritual level. To Mrs Poulter, Arthur gives the gold mandala, “the gold one, in which the sparks glinted, and from which the rays shot upwards whenever the perfect sphere was struck by its counterpart” (p. 276). Her genuine acceptance of the gift, not as a loan, but as a gift for keeps, contains no hint of ridicule. Arthur wanted to give the colourless, knotted mandala to his twin Waldo because he “was born with his innards twisted” (p. 32). Offering it, “while half sensing that Waldo would never untie the knot” (p. 273), his gesture is rebuffed: “so my reply, Arthur, is not shit, but shit!” Brutal though this rejection is, it comes as no surprise. Arthur solves the riddle by keeping the marble until after Waldo’s death when he symbolically loses it. The fourth mandala, the double spiral, he keeps for himself. It was the one “in which the double spiral knit and unknit so reasonably” (p. 281). With the rejected marble Arthur had thought Waldo might accept, both mandalas would occupy the same pocket for the rest of the novel.

A deal of textual commentary and analysis has been devoted to the scene, just before Arthur’s gifting of the gold mandala marble to Mrs Poulter, when Arthur dances a mandala for Mrs Poulter. It is barely two pages in length, yet consists of a wordless, hypnotic, semi-epileptic trance of a dance that Arthur spontaneously performs in front of Mrs Poulter. Like some shamanic ritual, the elderly twin shuffles from corner to corner of an imaginary mandalic square in the space formed by a curved bank of blackberry bushes. It is an intensely devotional performance, with the four corners being associated in Arthur’s mind with Mrs Poulter, the trio of himself and Dulcie and Leonard, his brother Waldo, and himself alone. Arthur performs it in silence and observes that Mrs Poulter is “obviously moved” by this. At the end, his energy is spent and he falls down and in a stupor. It is clearly meant as a unifying episode, a kind of crescendo delivered with White’s prose elevating Arthur onto a transcendental plane. It ends with Arthur having returned to the centre of the square:

Till in the centre of the mandala he danced the passion of all their lives, the blood running out of the backs of his hands, water out of the hole in his ribs. His mouth was a silent hole, because no sound was needed to explain. (The Solid Mandala, p. 267)

The significance of this episode of the book is discussed in detail by Patricia Morley and by Karin Hansson. Much of what they see in it mostly escaped me when I tackled White’s prose. It seems clear that Arthur’s goal was to attain a wholeness and harmony in his life, but that he felt he fell short. White’s biographer, David Marr, to whom one turns for reliably authoritative views of the writer, is clear that White was always searching for “wholeness”. “He always saw himself as a shattered personality - not one man but a cast of characters and Jung offered him fresh hope of making sense of this jumble” (Marr, p. 452). Memorably, he wrote:

The Browns of Sarsaparilla seemed two halves of his own nature: it was as if he had taken a scalpel to himself and excised the innocent Arthur, leaving the monster Waldo behind. Memory and imagination gave him all he needed to make the twins real and separate characters, but at heart they are Patrick White: an expression of the best hopes and worst fears he held for himself. (Patrick White, a life by David Marr, p. 448)

The delight in Patrick White’s prose

If you love good writing, fine style and a finessed deployment of vocabulary as part of your reading experience, then Patrick White’s novels will unfailingly reward the effort you make. But The Solid Mandala does this less than you might wish, and did so less than I had been accustomed to. Incidental textual pleasure marks the novel’s trajectory and some of these are worth dropping in here. They often appear as asides to the main narrative.

Waldo’s cold-hearted approach to the world colours the morning when he finds that his father had died: “It was early morning too, which made it worse, the light that gentler dandelion before the metal starts to clang” (p. 70). The sense of a missing verb for the first part of the image doubles the metallic clang that follows. What the clang was is never revealed. It therefore functions as a psychological blow. Mrs Musto, to whom Arthur delivers groceries, “loved to eat rich food … after which she would drop off in the middle of a sentence to revive burping in the middle of another” (p. 84) reminds us that, even in this claustrophobically suffocating text, White can be relied upon to entertain us. Digestion gets another mention with an aside about Sundays when “people were either asleep, or holding their full stomachs, or totting up the past with a relative” (p. 261). White’s patrician attitude towards his fellow man also shows, often captured well, as in the comment by the twins’ father that “there aren’t any shadows in Australia. Or discipline. Every man jack can do what he likes” (p. 161).

Worth noting too that The Solid Mandala is not cluttered with White’s love for the comma in the way his previous novels often were, and his repetition of ‘palpitating’, ‘palpitated’, ‘flickered’ and ‘twining’ has settled down to a merely occasional usage.

In essence, White’s style for The Solid Mandala seemed less mannered, less stylized and less grandiose. His text seemed more pared back, less verbose and, in the end, less pleasurable than I had encountered in his previous novels. With so much turmoil in the relationship between the twin brothers, textual simplicity was perhaps a better creative strategy. In tone, I was reminded of the some of the calmer, more domestic passages from the telling of Himmelfarb’s life in Germany in Riders in the Chariot. There were occasional stream-of-consciousness passages in The Solid Mandala, notably when Waldo considered life without Arthur, as mentioned, but the general impression I gained is that The Solid Mandala explored ideas rather than new styles of writing.

The Solid Mandala in context

(Re-)reading the majority of White’s novels in the order in which he wrote them, I find The Solid Mandala to be a discordant proposition. The superficial lack of complexity of its plot is thrown into sharp relief by the currents of allegory, mandalic structures and Jungian theories that seethe beneath its surface. Knowing that White felt “close” to the book is almost an invitation to delve into the writer’s biography for he was surely exploring themes drawn from his own family and his relationship with his parents. This makes The Solid Mandala a suffocating and introspective read. The sweep of Australia that we more than glimpsed in The Tree of Man, in Voss and even in Riders in the Chariot has been replaced with the two darkly-interlocking souls of twins Waldo and Arthur Brown.

One is left with the impression that White felt compelled to write The Solid Mandala, that its birth was a kind of … if not expiation, then therapy - for him. As reader, one is left feeling as if the process was voyeuristic, that we have been looking in on something that we were never meant to see. I can’t say that I enjoyed very much about Mandala, though I did learn more about the complexity of White’s personality. Where the journey (with a mileage expressed here in page numbers) from Tree (499) to Voss (428) to Riders (552) and on to The Vivisector (617), The Eye of the Storm (589) and A Fringe of Leaves (365) is a sustained literary pilgrimage of distinctive power, The Solid Mandala is, for me, an oddity left by the wayside, worth stopping for but not re-visiting. That it is the shortest of the seven of White’s novels mentioned here, at 318 pages, makes the stop either easy or high in value, depending on one’s viewpoint.

1/1 Portrait of Patrick White © William Yang, 1980
Patrick White 1980 by William Yang. Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra. © The artist.


(Page numbers in The Solid Mandala refer to the Eyre & Spottiswoode edition, 1966.)

In words

  • David Marr, Patrick White: A Life; Vintage, 1991.
  • David Marr (editor), Patrick White: Letters; Jonathan Cape, 1994.
  • Peter Beatson, The Eye in the Mandala: Patrick White, a Vision of Man and God; Barnes & Noble Books, 1976.
  • Peter Wolfe, Laden Choirs: The Fiction of Patrick White; The University Press of Kentucky, 2015.
  • Brian Kiernan, Patrick White; Macmillan Press, 1980.
  • Patrick White, Patrick White Speaks; Jonathan Cape, 1989.
  • Patrick White: from the Nobel Prize website:, first published 29 August 2001.
  • A conversation with Patrick White, Southerly, the journal of The English Association, Sydney, 33 (2), June 1973.
  • Karin Hansson, doctoral thesis The warped universe. A study of imagery and structure in seven novels by Patrick White; Lund Studies in English 69, CWK Gleerup, 1984.
  • Karrin Hansson, Patrick White – Existential Explorer: The Nobel Prize, 29 August 2001.
  • R. F. Brissenden, Patrick White; Longmans, Green & Co., Writers and their Work: no 90, 1966.
  • Geoffrey Dutton, Patrick White; Oxford University Press, 1971.
  • William Walsh, Patrick White - Voss; Edward Arnold, 1976.
  • Patricia A. Morley, The Mystery of Unity: Theme and technique in the novels of Patrick White; McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1972.
  • R. Shepherd & K. Singh (Eds.), Patrick White - A critical symposium; Centre for Research in the New Literature in English, Adelaide, 1978.

On film

  • The late, great Patrick White (p1). A discussion with David Marr and Kerry Walker; YouTube, 2nd May 2013.
  • The Life and Faith of Patrick White. Greg Clarke interviews Patrick White’s biographer David Marr; YouTube, 27th May 2012.
  • Interview of Nobel laureate Patrick White; YouTube, recorded in 1973 and published on 22nd January 2010.
  • Patrick White interviewed by Michael Billington; BBC World Service, 9th August 1982.
  • Patrick White Omnibus tribute; BBC, 2nd October 1990.
  • The Strand Archive talks to Patrick White’s biographer David Marr about the author’s unpublished novel The Hanging Garden; BBC, 19th April 2012.
  • Novelist Andrea Goldsmith, in conversation with James Ley, explores the poetically vivid fictional universe of Patrick White: Australian Literature 102: Patrick White: Riders in the Chariot, YouTube, 27 Jan 2015.

[The Solid Mandala by Patrick White is available in the UK from]

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