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The Tree of Man

  • Paperback
Stan Parker, with only a horse and a dog for company journeys to a remote patch of land he has inherited in the Australian hills. Once the land is cleared and a rudimentary house built, he brings his wife Amy to the wilderness. Together they face lives of joy and sorrow as they struggle against the environment.
The Tree of Man
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At the turn of the century Stan Parker takes a wife and makes a home as a small farmer in the wilderness of Australia. Amy bears his children and time brings him a procession of ordinary events - achievements, disappointments, sorrows and dreams. The author won the 1973 Nobel Prize for Literature.
Patrick White was born in England in 1912. His Australian parents took him home when he was six months old but educated him in England, at Cheltenham College and King's College, Cambridge. He settled in London, where his first novel, Happy Valley, was published to some acclaim in 1939. After serving in the RAF during the Second World War he returned to Australia with his partner, Manoly Lascaris. The novels, short stories and plays that followed The Tree of Man in 1956 made White a considerable figure in world literature. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1973. The Hanging Garden was begun and put aside in 1981 when White was lured away to write once again for the theatre. The unfinished novel was found among his papers after his death in September 1990 and published in 2012.
"[This is] one of those magnificent novels given to us when a great writer is in perfect harmony with the mythic soul of humanity" -- Carmen Callil Guardian "He is, in the finest sense, a world novelist" Guardian "His greatest novel, The Tree of Man is a tragic pastoral about the penitential struggle with nature in a grim Australian Eden" -- Peter Conrad Observer "The novel has unforgettable scenes, marvellous characters, wide ranges of mood, strikingly fresh imagery - all those ingredients which make a novel...become a permanent part of our memory" Washington Post "A timeless work of art from which no essential element of life has been omitted" New York Times Book Review
Author won Nobel Prize for Literature in 1973
'A cart drove between the two big stringybarks and stopped. These were the dominant trees in that part of the bush, rising above the involved scrub with the simplicity of true grandeur. So the cart stopped, grazing the hairy side of a tree, and the horse, shaggy and stolid as the tree, sighed and took root' - the stunning opener to Patrick White's harsh and mythic tale of life in the Australian wilderness told in spare, elemental prose. Stan and Amy Parker battle with human and natural disaster, to establish themselves and their family in a stark and unforgiving landscape, the poetry and meaning buried deep within their daily struggle. (Kirkus UK)
A story that attempts to capture - for Australia- the sense of a frontier opening up, that Conrad Richter succeeded in doing for an American background in the trilogy that began with The Trees (1940). There is much to be commended in the universality of concept, the basic human values, the inherent drama of life in the raw. But for me the characters remained conceptions rather than fulfillments:- Stan Parker, throughout his life span was the inarticulate, awkward, sensitive youth growing into manhood and old age, virtually unchanged; Amy, the orphan girl he took as his wife, was never convincingly the frustrated lusty woman he has made her, despite her yearnings and ultimate fall; the neighbors except for the dissolute Irish irish O'Dowds, and the Quigleys,- Bub who was a child all his life, and his protective sister Doll, who killed him to save him the danger of being left, alone,- remain shadowy background - a sort of Greek chorus. The events move slowly across the stage, against flood and fire and drought, against poverty, relative security and disintegration. The community itself comes alive only in disaster- and even then the women remain observers, not participants- a far cray from Richter's creation. With the next generation growing up, only the Parker children emerge:- Thelma, who marries above her station, and returns at intervals, to hover over her parents, but never really to share; Ray, who escaped to become a wastrel, a villain, guarded by his mother, finally rejected. It is a strange story, redeemed by compassion, but rarely allowing the reader full participation in its oddly detached emotional values. The style is erratic, uneven, occasionally derivative from the early Faulkner. I found it difficult reading, despite the stark simplicity of the basic story. (Kirkus Reviews)
Patrick White
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United Kingdom
Vintage Publishing

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