The Twyborn Affair

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Twyborn Affair
First edition
AuthorPatrick White
Cover artistMon Mohan
PublisherJonathan Cape
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardback and paperback)
Pages432 pp

The Twyborn Affair is a novel by Australian Nobel laureate Patrick White, first published in 1979. The three parts of the novel are set in a villa on the French Riviera before the First World War, a sheep station on the edge of Australia's Snowy Mountains in the inter-war period, and in London in the lead-up to the Second World War. White charts the transmigration of a soul through three different identities — Eudoxia, Eddie, and Eadith — two of them in female guise.

The seed of the novel was a reported exchange between the adventurer Herbert Dyce Murphy and his mother, in which the young boy claimed to be his mother's daughter Edith. The mother said she was glad, as she had always wanted a daughter. White heard about this episode from Barry Jones in 1974.[1][2][3][4]

As in many of White's novels, the main focus is on identity; White views his subject from masculine–feminine, colonial–English, rural–metropolitan, and bourgeois–bohemian polarities. The writing has been described as vivid and painterly in its attention to landscape, and remorseless in its critical dissection of social conventions. The novel is a virtuosic display of White's characteristic "wicked" humour.

The Twyborn Affair was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1979, but was removed at the request of the author, that it make way for the work of younger and more deserving writers. This reflects White's refusal, later in life, of all literary awards. He made an exception for the 1973 Nobel Prize in Literature, but sent a surrogate, Sidney Nolan, to Sweden to accept the award on his behalf.