A half century after the publication of his iconic novel, Voss, Patrick White's legacy will be debated at a public symposium this week, ahead of the Sydney Writers' Festival.
"There was very little attention given to Patrick White in the years after his death but that has changed this year," said co-convenor, Dr Elizabeth McMahon, a senior lecturer in the School of English, Media and Performing Arts at UNSW.
"It seems that there's a flurry of activity and a race for ownership of him. He has been remembered with the uncovering of manuscripts, plus the exhibition at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) paying tribute to Nobel prize winners."
Dr Brigitta Olubas, also from UNSW's School of English, Media and Performing Arts, and one of the other co-convenors said: "These days his work is not as widely read as it has been: along with other canonical Australian literary works his novels have slipped off the curriculum, and many of them are out of print.
"However, Patrick White is a kind of cultural icon, especially for Sydneysiders; he still holds great interest for the public, whether they have read his books or not," she said. "This suggests that there's certainly scope for remembering his work, and for thinking about its impact on contemporary Australian culture."
Novelists Brian Castro and Delia Falconer will consider White's legacy to Australian fiction-writing, poet Robert Gray will discuss his recollections of White, and leading academics will discuss his literature.
Some of the presentations include:
The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at UNSW and the Writing and Society Research Group at the University of Western Sydney, in conjunction with the Association for the Study of Australian Literature and the 2007 Sydney Writers' Festival, will host the conference.
What: Remembering Patrick White
When: Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th May, 2007
Where: Bangarra Mezzanine, Pier 4, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay
For more information, go to the website
Contact details: Susi Hamilton, UNSW Media unit, 9385 1583 or 0422 934 024