THE SOLID MANDALA by Patrick White


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Patrick White is generally considered Australia's leading novelist and his books have shown a certain consistency as well as unevenness: a concern for hapless people; a determined realism which does not overlook the distasteful detail; and a strain of mysticism, most apparent in the turbid Riders in the Chariot-1961, here present in the mandala of the title. A mandala is the Eastern symbol of totality. It is given concrete form through the marbles (he thinks of them as mandalas) which are the most valued possession of ""lumpy,"" ""loopy"" Arthur Brown. But it also objectifies the mutually protective and interdependent relationship the halfwit Arthur maintains with his twin brother, Waldo. They live an inextricable existence on Terminus Road, a name not idly chosen. Their lives begin and end there with almost no other contacts except their parents, a young woman with a certain sensuous warmth, and an older woman-- Mrs. Poulter-- who has an occasional outing with Arthur. Their duality-totality is technically furthered as Waldo tells his story, Arthur his, and actually of course it is theirs. Waldo, although intellectually capable, is in a sense as incomplete as his brother-- he is prurient, asexual and arid. While Arthur, strange as it seems, has the greater endowment-- he has the natural gift of loving and attracting love... The theme is interesting and its pursuit is patient; however, curiosity stops short of sympathy and the lack of involvement diminishes the power intended, particularly in the macabre finale.

Publisher: Viking