Patrick White and the Mediterranean

Data inizio
15 febbraio 2015
Durata (mesi) 
Lingue e Letterature Straniere
Responsabili (o referenti locali)
Pes Annalisa
Parole chiave
patrick white, australian literature, mediterranean

This research project is intended to explore the field of studies investigating the relationship between Australia and the Mediterranean, a geographical and cultural reality that has attracted the attention of numerous Australian writers and artists since mid-1950s (Shirley Hazzard, Robert Dessaix, Peter Robb, Venero Armanno). In particular the project focuses on the relationship between the Nobel Prize laureate Patrick White and the Mediterranean world, as embodied in the fragmentariness of the Middle East (a reality White had experienced during World War II), and in the creativity and liveliness of Greece, with its heroic and tragic Byzantine history and the hybrid identities of displaced Anatolian Greeks. As Patrick White’s biographer, David Marr, points out, Greece was the place where White wanted to live with his partner Manoly Lascaris for the rest of his life after the war. It became for him a sort of obsession where he saw perfection on every hand: the perfection of antiquity, of nature, and of human relationships. After spending five long years in the Middle East as a RAF officer he regarded himself as a Levantine and he believed he could live a life of pure being and spirit in Greece. Economic reasons and other practical circumstances made him and Manoly later decide to abandon this project and go back to Australia, where they would live for the rest of their lives, but the engagement with Greece continued to emerge in White’s writing. An engagement that was therefore derived both from personal and sentimental reasons but also from a deep interest in the place and its people, in a population with a composite culture, an ambivalent history and a divided identity that characterizes any diasporic reality.
It is mainly in the short stories that White gives prominence to the representation of the Mediterranean place with a narrative approach and enthusiasm that brought some Australian critics to accuse him of transmitting in his writings an all too evident propensity for Greece, and especially for Anatolian Greeks, in stark contrast with the harsh criticism and bitter irony he employs instead in the portrayal of Australia and its people. Through the analysis of these stories and their narrative dynamics the project investigates the reasons why the short story appears to be considered by White (a novelist par excellence) as a more appropriate literary form to transmit the hybrid and fragmentary nature of the Mediterranean place, a space of transition (from East to West, from the margins to the centre, from tragic to comic), a space of cultural encounters and differences, a “contact zone” that questions the very concepts of home and of national identity.

Importo previsto relativo alle missioni:
euro 3500 (Fur Annalisa Pes)

Partecipanti al progetto

Annalisa Pes
Professore associato
Aree di ricerca coinvolte dal progetto
Letteratura inglese e letterature anglofone
Critical Theory & Poetics
Letteratura inglese e letterature anglofone
Cultural Studies: Colonialism/Colonial Discourse
Letteratura inglese e letterature anglofone
Literature (General): Comparative literature  (DFLL)
Letteratura inglese e letterature anglofone
Literature (General): Comparative literature  (DLLS)