The Early Works: Anatomy of Failure
In White’s early fiction, the pattern whereby failure leads to an unlooked-for and very different kind of success is present, but muted or subsidiary to other concerns. The theme is explored and anatomized, but does not take on the importance later accorded it. As his early work reveals the author experimenting in matters of style and technique, it also chronicles his gradual approach to the philosophy of life which would inform his mature fiction. A central feature of this philosophy, the paradox of imperative failure, does not emerge in all its complexity until Voss, written some twenty years after the writer’s fiction first appeared in print. None the less, the protagonist’s experience of significant failure is a feature even of the earliest novel White published.
KeywordsDust Sludge Tuberculosis Bark Cataract
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