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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Riders in the Chariot

Patrick White

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To purchase Riders in the Chariot

Title: Riders in the Chariot
Author: Patrick White
Genre: Novel
Written: 1961
Length: 492 pages
Availability: Riders in the Chariot - US
Riders in the Chariot - UK
Riders in the Chariot - Canada
Riders in the Chariot - India
  • Awarded the Miles Franklin Prize (for Best Australian Novel), 1961.
  • The new New York Review Books edition has an introduction by David Malouf

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Our Assessment:

A : White again at the height of his powers

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Australian Book Rev. A 11/1961 Geoffrey Dutton
The Guardian . 27/10/1961 Jeremy Brooks
The NY Times Book Rev. A 8/10/1961 James Stern
Sydney Morning Herald . 28/10/1961 Charles Highan
Time . 6/10/1961 Brad Darrach
The Times . 26/10/1961 .
Times Literary Supp. . 15/12/1961 .

  From the Reviews:
  • "The style, often found difficult in the earlier books, is just as individual but more perfectly modulated to experience, and the dialogue is much closer to contemporary idiom, especially when those cadences have been masterfully twisted to satirical ends." - Geoffrey Dutton, Australian Book Review

  • "Author White has a fine, sweaty flair for physical detail (.....) But Author White's hydrangeas too often turn purple (.....) The fundamental difficulty is that Author White finds words more real than people. Reality in his hands becomes logorrheality." - Brad Darrach, Time

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       One of the more accessible of his longer works, Riders in the Chariot is a remarkable novel about a group of people who hardly seem at all remarkable. White is able to imbue his characters with a depth that is astounding, revealing a humanity in them that most novelists cannot fathom. The stories are simple -- lost souls, whose lives intertwine -- but in White's hands the quilt is quite magical. Plain Mary Hare, living alone at what remains of the family estate, Xanadu, engages a housekeeper. Getting old, she needs the company and the help. The hired woman, Mrs. Jolley, is by no means servant in the uneasy relationship that develops.
       The lives of the Jewish emigré Mordecai Himmelfarb, a neighbor, and the half caste Alf Dubbo, also unfold, leading the story in its sad spiral of decay. It is a fine story White tells, heartwarming even, among its horrors. His usual concerns and criticism of things and ways Australian are prominent, but fit well in the tale.

       Highly recommended.

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Riders in the Chariot: Reviews: Patrick White: Other books by Patrick White under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Patrick White (1912-1990), Australian author. Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1973. Schooled in England (at Cheltenham, and King's College, Cambridge). His first novel Happy Valley was published in 1939. Worked for R.A.F Intelligence during WWII, after which he returned to Australia.

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