Australian Modernist Theatre and Patrick White’s the Ham Funeral (1961 [1947])

  • Ryszard W Wolny Institute of English and American Studies, University of Opole, Poland


For a considerable period of time, literary Modernism has been mainly associated with the study of the novel and poetry rather than drama perhaps due to New Criticism’s emphasis on the text and disregard of performance. This profound anti-theatrical thrust of Modernism has to be, most certainly, re-examined and reassessed, particularly within the context of Australian literature and, more specifically, Australian theatre. That Australian modernist theatre has been inconspicuous on the world stage seems to be an obvious and undisputable statement of facts. Yet, with Patrick White, English-born but Australian-bred 1976 Nobel Prize winner for literature, Australian low-brow uneasy mix of British vaudevilles, farces and Shakespeare, mingled with the local stories of bushranging and convictism, got to a new start. Patrick White’s literary output is immense and impressive, particularly in regards to his widely acclaimed and renowned novels; yet, as it seems, his contribution to Australian – least the world – drama is virtually unknown, especially in Europe. The aim of this paper is, therefore, to disclose those modernist elements in Patrick White’s play, The Ham Funeral, that would argue for the playwright to be counted as one of the world avant-garde modernist dramatists alongside Beckett and Ionesco.
Jan 21, 2017
How to Cite
WOLNY, Ryszard W. Australian Modernist Theatre and Patrick White’s the Ham Funeral (1961 [1947]). European Journal of Multidisciplinary Studies, [S.l.], v. 4, n. 4, p. 105-109, jan. 2017. ISSN 2414-8385. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 20 sep. 2017. doi: