It is an odd aspect of Australian literature that the poets have been - at least until fairly recently - a rather sober lot stylistically. It is in the work of novelists like Patrick White and Christina Stead that we find Gothic extravagances of associative language and imagination, visions of the external world as charged, if not necessarily with the grandeur of God, at least with something more than mild pathetic fallacy. At the same time, both are uncomfortable writers, less because their intensity sometimes topples over into verbosity and portentousness than because the heat of their intensity co-exists with a chill generated by a strong distaste for, and often remarkably acute observation of, the flaws and the moral bankruptcies of human beings.



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