A Popular Vision: The Arts and the Left in New Zealand 1930-1950
The New Culture
The New Culture
Frederick Sinclaire suggested that the 'uncanny and ill-boding silence'81 which infected New Zealand intellectual life was a local cultural phenomenon: a product of 'the New Zealand mind'. Rhodes' comments on New Zealand culture, however, are framed by a Marxist analysis which sees the country's cultural malaise as symptomatic of the fate of culture under capitalism, and places the debate on New Zealand culture in an international context.
Discussion of New Zealand culture in fact occupied only a very small proportion of the 118 articles (excluding reviews) that Rhodes wrote for Tomorrow. These articles expounded the central themes of the cultural politics of the Popular Front. Rhodes explicidy rejected the self-conscious concern with national identity which seemed to preoccupy many New Zealand writers, comparing them with their Australian counterparts who had already learned 'that if they were to contribute anything worthwhile to Australian culture it would be necessary to defend world culture.'82 The decade was experiencing 'a cultural revolution' in which 'writers and intellectuals have joined together in organisations that pay no heed to national boundaries';83 at such a time the literary pursuit of national identity was, in Rhodes' view, out of place. Nevertheless, while he dismissed the nationalist programme, his analysis of cultural development and his vision of a future socialist culture share with it important similarities, in language, theoretical assumptions and impetus.
In Rhodes' opinion Curnow's gross masters were 'not confined to New Zealand'. Nor were the 'Scores of hole-in-the-corner societies [which] provide lectures and entertainment for the few, giving their members any amount of page 50 opportunity for aesthetic chit-chat'.84 Rather, Rhodes accounted for these institutions with an historical analysis which explained changes in the cultural infrastructure as a direct product of economic and ensuing social changes. The rise of industrialisation and the commercial ethic of capitalism had seen over the last century the establishment of an effective cultural hegemony. 'True' culture had become the preserve of the wealthy, and was being stifled in the rarefied atmosphere of the dilettante literary and art societies by which 'We [the intellectuals] are allowing the legitimate possession of the people to pass into the hands of minority cults.'85 The mass culture industry, meanwhile, fed to the people a pseudo-culture through the media of pulp fiction and, most insidious of all in its influence and its profit-motive, cinema. It was not only the morally concerned who saw the cinema in the 1930s as a pre-eminently dangerous influence on the minds and culture of the masses. This subject occupied three articles by Rhodes in Tomorrow and another in the Soviet News. The cinema was not, he acknowledged, an inherently commercial art form, and here he cited the work of Eisenstein as evidence of the potential of cinema as an 'art of sociological, interpretative and aesthetic value'. But in the western world it had been 'born in an age of commercialism' and consequendy 'has been largely instrumental in standardising and debasing the taste of the people.'86 In its form, and in its content—'records of the imbecilities of a decadent society,.. . the presentation of the spectacular with an absence of the significant,... the dramas of futile lives, . . . sickly sentimentalism and childish technique'—the cinema epitomised the culture of capitalism.87
It is not surprising that Rhodes drew heavily upon the work of English literary critics Q.D. and F.R. Leavis, founders of Scrutiny magazine, and American 'New Critic' I. A. Richards, in his critique of 'mass culture', nor that Tomorrow printed a Scrutiny reading list as well as the programme for radio broadcasts from Moscow. (The 'annotated list' of Scrutiny publications was to introduce a series of articles on the Scrutiny movement, but these did not appear.) Rhodes cites specifically Q. D. Leavis's Fiction and the Reading Public (1932) and Culture and Environment (1933) by F.R. Leavis and Denys Thompson for documentary evidence of the standardisation and debasement of popular culture. That he does so is indicative of the wide currency as well as the divergent political implications of these concerns. The rapid expansion of commercialised, 'mass' culture in the inter-war years, identified particularly with the Hollywood film industry and American comics, magazines and pulp fiction, provoked a variety of responses. Members of the English literary left such as Christopher Caudwell and W. H. Auden shared with Scrutiny and writers such as T. S. Eliot, occupying quite different places on the political spectrum, a diagnosis of impending cultural crisis through the impact of industrialisation and the commercial ethic upon culture. Similar fears also influenced the development of page 51 cultural nationalism: alarm over the widespread and detrimental influence of American-produced 'popular' culture had been a strong impulse behind the formulation of Australian cultural nationalism in the 1920s, by writers such as Louis Esson and Nettie Palmer, and influenced the development of both socialist realism and literary nationalism in Australia in the 1930s.88
Varying responses to these cultural developments were also present in Tomorrow. Frederick Sinclaire's condemnations of the 'cant', 'humbug' and hypocrisy of bourgeois culture, his frequent comment on the 'insanity' of the modern world and lament that modernity was 'the cross which God has appointed for the modem man to carry', and his resigned response to this state of affairs—'I propose Sack-cloth and Ashes'89 —expressed a more pessimistic and far-reaching criticism of contemporary culture than Rhodes' socialist critique of literary modernism. They shared a common language and focus of concern, but Sinclaire, who called himself 'the reactionary member of the [ Tomorrow] group',90 had long since retreated from the strong left-wing views which had gained him a reputation at Oxford and took him into the Victorian Socialist Party, while retaining his deeply-founded antipathy to 'mechanomorphism'—his term for the depersonalisation of the capitalist economic system, a hatred of which had always been the foundation of his political and religious philosophy. Rhodes was entirely in sympathy—his own word was 'dehumanisation'—but he had a different answer.
Just as Rhodes did not share Frederick Sinclaire's fatalistic approach to the problems of the 'modern world', nor did he share the political views of the Leavisites. As a socialist Rhodes held 'the people' to be the source of true cultural values, and would not countenance the passive 'watch and pray' attitude with which Scrutiny approached the coming crisis.91 Employing a characteristically military metaphor he declared a 'batde to the death with the commercialised culture that has grown up around us.'92
In this contest of cultures and ideologies, the commercialised culture of capitalism and the 'enemy of culture', fascism, were ranged on one side of the battlefield, against the promise of socialism and the example of the Soviet Union on the other. The Soviet Union, as model and inspiration, was as important to the Popular Front left in cultural terms as it was politically and economically. The largely uncritical appraisal of cultural development in the Soviet Union can be understood in the context of the belief that western culture had reached a state of'mental and spiritual stagnation',93 and of an analysis of capitalism as a system which had no place for the artist—a critique writers and artists in New Zealand were making of their own culture.
The statistical bulletins which appeared in the left-wing press, documenting the numbers of performances of Shakespeare in Moscow (471 in 1938; none in New Zealand) or the proportion of the Soviet Union's budget which was spent page 52 on the arts, conveyed a picture of a culture whose robust health was in stark contrast to the decay of culture in capitalist societies. Ian Milner, travelling through Russia on his way to Oxford in 1934, wrote enthusiastically to a friend in New Zealand:
I have scarcely had a free hour,—there is so much doing. The theatre every night, and factories, schools, museums, reformatory communes, parks of culture, studios of cinema art, and so much else day by day. The theatrical and artistic enthusiasm and talent is tremendous—a renaissance of cultural energy.94
Not only were the arts flourishing in the Soviet Union, but there the artist was held in respect by both the people and the state. The value of literature was duly recognised because it bore direct relevance to the lives and struggle of the people. The life and work of Maxim Gorki, a popular and official hero ('the father of Soviet literature, the guide and friend of writers, and idol of the masses', read an obituary notice in Tomorrow95 ), exemplified for Rhodes the marriage of art and action, of cultural and political activity, which also characterised the new 'proletarian' literature emerging in the Soviet Union, and, in a different context, was epitomised by the participation of writers, artists and intellectuals in the International Brigade. "While in the west the literature of the 1920s had turned away from society to dwell on the mental torments of the individual, and writers such as D. H. Lawrence uttered 'wearisome reiterations of world weariness' and T. S. Eliot 'wrote of men so gudess that they scarcely lived.... [and] Pessimism sighed and whispered and moaned its way delicately into the void', in the Soviet Union 'creative workers are regarded and regard themselves as collaborators in the building of socialism.'96 And so, Rhodes observed, the death of G. K. Chesterton in 1936 was ignored by the British government and barely acknowledged in the conservative press, while in Russia the same year it was considered 'right and proper that the death of their great writer Gorki should be announced to the people as a bulletin from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Council of People's Commissars' and bring forth 'messages expressing profound sorrow... from every corner of the vast Soviet Union.'97
The vision of the writer as a popular hero is encapsulated by an image Rhodes finds in a passage from Katharine Susannah Prichard's The Real Russia (1934), an account of her travels in the Soviet Union in the early 30s. Twice he quotes: 'It was the first time in my life I had heard a poet applauded like a primadonna. Over and over again I was present when the poets of a factory or collective farm recited their verses.'98 This image of the poet as one of and loved by the people is the antithesis of the alienated, disaffected artist under capitalism. And it underlines the extent to which the attraction of socialism and the Soviet page 53 Union to the Popular Front left intellectuals can be seen to derive from their own subjective experience and professional anxieties, rather than from a political analysis, and, in turn, from a conception of the political crisis of the 1930s as a crisis not only of capitalism and of liberal democracy, but of western culture itself.99 An article in Tomorrow by Gordon Watson succincdy summed up the nature of Russia's attraction as a cultural mecca for left-wing intellectuals. Entitled 'Moscow—New Centre of World Culture', it takes its cue from the presence of British conductor Albert Coates at the funeral of Sergei Kirov in 1934 and describes 'the moving of the very best elements of capitalist culture to the side of Socialism, to the side of the Soviet Union. The tormented individualism of Andre Gide finds hope and the living fulfilment of dreams in the young people of the Soviet Union. Albert Coates finds the rapt attention and musical appreciation among the workers of a Leningrad factory that he never experienced among all the stiff shirts and sleek furs of London.' And thus the Soviet Union is 'becoming increasingly regarded as the custodian of world cultural values.'100
Rhodes himself offers a more detailed and critical account of the interaction between western and Soviet culture, but one which also interprets this interaction as the major cultural event of the decade:
It is more than probable that the literary historians of the future will look back to the thirties of this century to find evidence of the first great impact between the communism of the east and the literature of the west.101
Similarly, he expresses a central theme of Popular Front cultural theory, as he seeks to claim for socialism the role of heir to and guardian of a western cultural heritage that capitalism has betrayed. In his articles and in reviews of Soviet fiction the terms of his argument betray his concern to legitimise the new culture within a liberal-humanist cultural tradition. In a review of Darkness and Dawn by Alexei Tolstoi, for example, he emphasises the humanist aspect of this story of revolutionary Russia:
Tolstoi is not writing a novel about the Five Year Plan or the collectivisation of the farms, he is not even writing a novel about the Revolution. But the success of Darkness and Dawn is due to the fact that the writer is talking about human beings, and the story of the revolution is told through their story.102
His account of cultural development in the Soviet Union emphasises a healthy climate of free cultural expression and critical debate. In 'Revolution and Literature' he counters the argument that Soviet culture is marked by mediocrity and uniformity, that its content is dictated from above and its purpose narrowly political, and challenges left-wing writers and critics to 'prove by their writings that philistinism and Marxism are not synonymous terms.'103 A four- page 54 part series on 'Literature in the Land of the Soviets' observes a drawing together of what Rhodes identifies as the two main schools of Soviet writers: the proletarian writers who approach life and art 'from the social or collective angle', and the sympathetic but essentially individualist fellow travellers. But this development 'does not mean that the importance of the individual has been forgotten. Rather it means that the relation between the individual and society is being clarified'.104
Here Rhodes implicitly draws a distinction between 'true' and 'false' individualism, a distinction which was stated explicitly by Ian Milner writing in the Canterbury College Review in 1933, in an article ('On Reading Dickens Again') which was also about literature and the current crisis.105 It is this concept of 'true individualism', as opposed to the competitive, materialistic individualism fostered by capitalism, which is central to Rhodes' definition of communism, and to his vision of a socialist culture. The 'challenge of communism is not only a political challenge', he argued in 'A Spectre and a Faith', 'but also an ethical challenge', for it 'gives economic reality to what has been little more than a pious paradox. . . . [that] although the human personality is sacred it attains its full development in complete selflessness.' By virtue of its true respect for the individual, and for human values, in contrast to the philistinism of capitalist society and the even more blatant cultural 'barbarism' represented by fascism: 'Communism ... lays the foundations for a truly spiritual culture where all men may seek the truth and be sensitive to beauty.'106
This is Rhodes' most explicit defence and definition of communism. Despite several deputations of Party officials he did not join the Communist Party. This was partly a response to the comparatively meagre serious attention given to cultural matters by the Party in New Zealand: 'I thought... an issue would come up which I would tend to make a big issue, some literary matter, which I knew at the same time wasn't important to other people. I didn't want to be in the position of fighting a battle over what would seem non-essentials to others.' But while his love of literature stopped him from joining the Party, it was also the foundation of his socialist beliefs. He later explained:
There is always a contradiction, you see, in my mind. Literature has always been an important thing to me ....I think I annoyed a lot of them [the communists] by writing an article ... on how I became left, and I put the responsibility on T. S. Eliot and various others, not on Lenin and the usual people. That was partly a joke, but partly true too.'107
It was true to the extent that the humanism which was the essential value of literature was for Rhodes also the significance and promise of socialism.
Rhodes also saw the new socialist culture as the inheritor of a 'revolutionary tradition' within western literature, a tradition based upon the maxim that 'All page 55 the great novelists are rebels', and that good literature is, by definition, political:
when I look down the long line of great English writers, I know that with very few exceptions they have fought for the poor against the rich, they have exposed cant'and hypocrisy, they have not been inclined to mistake the shadow of a thing for its substance, they have struggled for liberty, for intellectual honesty, for justice.108
Rhodes' 'Great Tradition', which is not to be confused with the Leavisite Great Tradition whose heroes are different entirely, extends from Dante and Milton, through Shaw and Wells, down to the politically-conscious writers of the present. His radical genealogy reinstates within the literary canon the writers of 'post-war disillusion', such as T. S. Eliot, in that their introversion, negativity and escapism represent, however misguided in their particular manifestation, an instinctive reaction against the social and cultural effects of capitalism. They express the 'natural antagonism of the true artist to bourgeois habits'.109 Rhodes' real cultural hero, however, is Milton. It is the seventeenth-century Puritans who are the true ancestors of the socialist writers of the 1930s. The seventeenth-century writer had 'the habit of thinking in terms of a coherent philosophy'. Like the 1930s, the seventeenth century was a time of political and economic upheaval, and it was a time when writers 'could take part in political strife without apology and write like men aware of human as well as literary values. ... You can call it Marxism if you like but it is certainly Miltonism whatever else it may be.'110
The tradition of Miltonism is also defined by a 'reverence for life and the true values of life'.111 This phrase introduces another key 'Rhodesian' (and also, incidentally, a Scrutiny) term. Rhodes' articles are infused with 'life', 'vigour' and Vitality', a literary joie de vivre which not only expresses his enthusiasm for his subject, but which is also part of a central metaphor.
The novels of Maxim Gorki, who for Rhodes symbolises more than any other writer the new culture being born in the Soviet Union, are infused with an 'instinctive love of life'; here is a writer who is 'frankly and honestly in love with life', 'who responds naturally and eagerly to vigorous and active living.'112 'If criticism is to be alive', Rhodes states, 'it must sift the best in living thought and expression—it must show the spirit of the age.'113 The spirit of the age is 'The Dance of Life', which is the tide given to a discussion of the new, left-wing British poets—Auden, Spender, Day Lewis—whose writing, even as it describes the decline of their own class (the middle class or the intelligentsia), exhibits 'an unmistakable note of affirmation'."114 The principle of'life affirmation which has always been the possession of the common people' is counterposed against the 'death impulse' of western society which found its literary expression in 'the doubts and despairs, the confused and cynical moods of the twenties'.115 The writers page 56 of that decade 'have lost that world-view which was part of the great tradition to which they belong. They have lost all reason for an attitude to life based upon life-affirmation and have become part of the death-will in society'; post-war literature has been characterised by a 'cynical detachment and spiritual exhaustion'.116 The 1930s, by contrast, are now witnessing a 'Renaissance of Purpose'— 'an artistic purpose linked to a social purpose,'117
The overriding metaphor here is the phoenix, an idea of rebirth and renewal.
But it was no accident that the complete collapse of capitalist stability followed by the wave of European fascism coincided with the spectacular reconstruction of Soviet Russia, and out of the ruins of the one arose writers with their eyes turned to the other.118
This brings us back to the theme of literary nationalism, and its connection with the contemporaneous left-wing cultural movement, of which Rhodes was the principal theorist and propagandist. For the phoenix is also the central metaphor which has defined the 1930S-1940s in New Zealand cultural history.
The nationalist literary manifesto also saw this as a period of cultural renaissance, and wrote in a language based on images of 'life', 'vigour' and renewal. Rhodes accounted for the failure of western culture by its detachment from social and economic reality, its lack of relevance to the lives of the people, and its consequent loss of social purpose. It had become divorced from its immediate context, had lost any connection with 'the raw material of everyday life'.119 The nationalist literary movement sought to create a vigorous, independent New Zealand literature, a literature that was 'rooted in life', a literature 'as immediate in experience as the island soil under his [the writer's] feet', in place of an insubstantial, derivative colonial culture 'which had lost its footing in history and could find none on its own ground', a culture which was only a 'lifeless growth'.120
The main quotations above are taken from Allen Curnow's introduction to A Book of New Zealand Verse (1945). One could find as many statements of the complementary themes of finding one's ground and of new life, images of actuality and insubstantiality, in M.H. Holcroft's essays Discovered Isles and Creative Problems in New Zealand or in the poems of Charles Brasch—in which:
Everywhere in light and calm
the murmuring shadow of departure; distance looks our way.121
Two anthologies of poetry published by the Caxton Press in the 1930s also illustrate the common theme. Verse Alive-, a selection of poetry from Tomorrow edited by Winston Rhodes and Denis Glover, was published in 1936 and page 57 followed by a second edition in 1937. In the introduction to Verse Alive its editors argued that poetry 'has failed because it has become too detached, too remote from the interests of the people', and that New Zealand literature must show 'some measure of lively independence' in place of a colonial tradition that merely 'substitute[s] "tui" for "nightingale"'. The poet must 'concern himself with the raw material of life,... he should have a sense of human and aesthetic values'. He must 'communicate living experience, trivial and otherwise, in the language of today.'122 For Rhodes this meant a popular and realist literature, although the political implications of these terms are made no more explicit, in this instance, than by a reference to the poet's 'social responsibility'. The broader context of this discourse is drawn in the preface to New Poems (1934), a collection edited by Denis Glover and Ian Milner which included work by Curnow, Fairburn, Glover and Brasch. New Poems, in contrast to Verse Alive, defined the poet's responsibility as being firstly to 'his creative impulse':
It has been termed 'new' because we think its general tone marks a departure from that unfortunate tradition in which any sentimental rhapsodising over love, flowers or sunsets seems to pass for poetry. A predilection for decorative lyricising and emotional embroidery, weakly reminiscent of pre-war Georgian verse, has produced in this country a lifeless growth which, though not necessarily insincere, is in no sense creative.
New Poems editors went on to acknowledge, but also qualify, the impact of 'a revolutionary age' upon many of the writers represented in the volume:
We certainly note their sensitiveness to veering social forces, their willingness to face unpleasant issues, their implied faith in a more creative way of living; but above all we are struck by the renewed poetic vigour and pliancy which springs from these qualities of social affinity. A new awareness, shaping itself in a freshening of imagery and a more impassioned recording of experience, gives these poems what significance they have. And this quickened vitality, appearing at a time when poetry is alleged to be both ineffectual and exhausted, has led us to make this selection.123
The phoenix is a metaphor of death and rebirth, of cyclical change; it implies continuity rather than a radical break. In Rhodes' cultural history, the humanist tradition defined as Miltonism was being reborn in the 'proletarian literature' of the Soviet Union and in the political commitment of the progressive writers of the west, who were 'concerned with building a new civilisation and saving some of the wreckage of the old'.124 Yet a stronger emphasis is placed by Rhodes on the new than on the old. The first socialist experiment, the Soviet Union, 'is building a new literature as it is building a new social order'; 'it is the novelty of the times,—a novelty which is the product of a new way of life and a new page 58 ideology, that makes Soviet literature the extraordinary thing it is.'125 Russia's proletarian and socialist writers are 'like a breath of fresh air blowing across the stuffy rooms of the west.'126 There is a strong feeling of the revolutionary nature of the times, which, combined with the critical maxim that art must be concerned with contemporary reality, creates a sense of a decisive rupture between the 1920s and the 1930s. This corresponds with a broader conception of the 1930s as a revolutionary age. To the left the great depression at the turn of the decade represented the collapse of capitalism and heralded the final batde between fascism and socialism. Ian Milner captured this sense of the decisive moment in history when he wrote, in 1932: 'This is "zero hour" in the world's history. . . . [a] neutral state of transition between the old and the new.'127 This is also the structural idea of W. H. Auden's 'Spain 1937' (his most directly 'political' poem of the 1930s): 'Yesterday all the past. . . But to-day the struggle.' It has been observed, too, that for the communist left this sense of the 1930s as a critical moment in history accompanied an acute sense of the individual as an 'agent of history', the conviction that 'history was on our side':128 one was, in effect, on the side of the angels (of socialism) at the turning point in historical development. Thus Rhodes observed: 'when the West is floundering to destruction and the East is struggling to be born. . . . Art cannot help taking sides. It will either strive to support a tottering civilisation, or it will grope towards the new.'129
The historical construction of literary nationalism also identifies this period as a radical juncture, as a beginning. It has emphasised the awakening rather than what went before. The programme of literary nationalism was concerned to establish the origins, and authorship, of New Zealand's cultural awakening in the 1930s and the 'Phoenix generation' (notwithstanding that the first Phoenix took its model and motif from a British literary movement of the 1920s). So Allen Curnow wrote in the preface to A Book of New Zealand Verse, 'here, where we are beginning', and 'My intention has been to cut our losses'.130
Along with their similarly styled complaint against 'the weighty and deadening forces of philistinism', their apprehension of society's 'mental and spiritual stagnation', and their conception of this as a time of cultural renaissance or beginning, both left and nationalist cultural critiques make, correspondingly, a claim for the value of literature. It has been argued that for the New Zealand writers of the 1930s and 1940s the impact of the depression, the prevailing ethos of political commitment among the English literary left, and the impetus towards the creation of a national culture converged in an emphasis on the public role of the artist.131 One can extend this point further, in seeing in both left and nationalist responses a self-conscious concern, a sense of responsibility, to create a culture where there existed only a cultural wilderness. The propagandists of the left and of literary nationalism cast themselves in a redemptive role. The page 59 first Phoenix defined its task as "'the redeeming of the times'". Its purpose was an aesthetic and moral one: '"It is the poet's task not to save a man's soul but to make it worth saving.'" It addressed itself to 'a small but intelligent minority' and cast the poets and their audience in the role of a cultural vanguard. Their self-appointed task was 'the creation of cultural antennae, the communication of definite standards of taste' and 'the integration of national consciousness'.132
For Rhodes and the literary left, on the other hand, the future, which it was their task to help create, was a socialist or people's culture. Rhodes' vision of a popular culture drew in part from the example of the Soviet Union, and also from the nineteenth-century tradition of English craft socialism. In an early issue of Tomorrow he quoted the familiar words of William Morris: 'an art which is produced by the people and for the people as a joy to the maker and the user.'133 In his own words he wrote: 'I don't want a world fit for the heroes of culture, I want a world where human creativeness in its humblest and most prosaic forms will be able to have some sort of a chance.'134 In this brave new world of cultural democracy every person would have the 'leisure and the desire to concern himself with matters that are not only connected with his material welfare', and would be able to enjoy 'the best that is thought and known' (here he owes his expression to Matthew Arnold).135 The popular culture envisaged by Rhodes reverses the cultural hegemony by which the people have been handed down a commercialised culture, which 'in truth . . . is not really popular art at all but a commercialised substitute brought into existence in the days when the people had no art of their own.'136 In the place of the mass culture of capitalism Rhodes would see a true culture of the people.
"When Rhodes turned his attention to New Zealand it was to argue for a popular culture of this kind. New Zealand writers must learn to deal with 'the realities and not with the shadows of life' if they are to produce 'a popular and socially significant form of art.'137 He did not dismiss cultural nationalism out of hand, but only its insular focus and the direction of its search for national identity:
We have had homesick writers, disgrunded writers, and guide-book writers. We need militant writers. ... we have not yet discovered the New Zealand scene. We have only discovered the scenery. Isolation will help no one to discover that scene, ever changing as it is.
The beginnings of a national literature are to be found when writers turn to deal with the normal activities of ordinary men.... It would be a sign of increasing nationhood and evidence that writers were ceasing to create literature out of geographical accident and were using human material instead.138
The sort of cultural activity he envisaged was not that represented by the page 60 proposal made by the New Zealand Society of Artists in 1934 that a free exhibition of the Empire Loan Collection of British paintings be organised for the unemployed. Rather, he looked forward to the establishment of working class cultural organisations of the kind he had been involved in in Melbourne in the early 1930s:
Workers' Art Clubs are wanted to unite those who are capable of producing stories, articles, or drawings dealing with New Zealand social themes. Workers' Film Clubs are wanted to devise ways and means of producing New Zealand Documentary.
If the cultural life of New Zealand is in a healdiy state, we should expect to find that our innumerable [cultural] societies are connected with shop, factory and educational centres, we should expect men and women on all sides of us to be engaged in creative work of some sort, we should expect that the works produced would be not only available for all to see but eagerly sought for and enjoyed by the people from town and country, from shop, factory and farm.139
Others shared this vision. The cultural activities discussed in the following chapters, the Left Book Club and the cooperative book societies, the Progressive Publishing Society and the left theatres, were all in different ways attempts to realise a popular or socialist cultural ideal.
81 F.S., 'Notes By The Way', Tomorrow, specimen issue, p.3
82 'Writers in Australia', p.308. Unless otherwise stated, articles by Winston Rhodes cited subsequently in these notes are from Tomorrow.
83 The Left Theatre', p.13
84 'These Two Islands', 19 July 1939 (v.5, n.19),p.601; 'The Cult of Culture', 25 July 1934 (v.1, n.3), p.12
85 Ibid., p.12
86 'Fifteen Years of Soviet Film Making', Soviet News, July 1935 (v.4, n.3), p.11; 'From Jaegars to Films', p.11
87 'Fifteen Years of Soviet Film Making', p.11
88 See L. McDiarmid, Saving Civilisation. Yeats, Eliot and Auden Between the Wars. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984; D. Modjeska, Exiles at Home. Australian Women Writers 1925-1945. London, Sydney: Sirius Books, 1981; Walker, Dream and Disillusion
89 F.S., 'A Constructive Proposal', Tomorrow, 4 Mar. 1936 (v.2, n.17), p.23
90 Rhodes, Frederick Sinclaire, p.116
91 'Tarzan of the Apes', 3 Aug. 1938 (v.4, n.20), p.630
92 'The Cult of Culture', p.13
93 Rhodes, 'A Post-script on Leisure', 7 Aug. 1935 (v.1, n.41), p.14
94 Quoted in Workers' Weekly, 10 Nov. 1934, p.3
95 Tomorrow, 24 June 1936 (v.2, n.25), p.25. See also Rhodes, 'Maxim Gorki', 8 July 1936 (v.2, n.26), pp.12-14
96 'So That's That', 19 Dec. 1934 (v.1, n.23), p.14; The Progress of Pessimism',31 Mar. 1937 (v.3, n.n), p.338; 'Where Music is Polities', 25 Nov. 1936 (v.3, n.2), p.49
97 'Fame and Funerals', 2 Sept. 1936 (v.2, n.30), p.19
98 'So That's That', 19 Dec. 1934 (v.1, n.23), p.15
99 See J. Coombes, 'British Intellectuals and the Popular Front', in F. Gloversmith (ed.), Class Culture and Social Change. A New View of the 1930s. Sussex: Harvester Press, 1980, pp.70-100
101 'Revolution and Literature', 1 Apr. 1936 (v.2, n.19), p.24
102 'Books. Views and Reviews', 4 Mar. 1936 (v.2, n.17), p.14
103 'Revolution and Literature', p.25
104 'Literature in the Land of the Soviets II: Fellow-Travellers', 6 Mar. 1935 (v.1, n.33), pp.15,17
105 Canterbury College Review, 85, Oct. 1933, pp.16-17
106 'A Spectre and a Faith' (2), 11 Nov. 1936 (v.3, n.1), pp.13-15
107 Rhodes interview
108 'These Men Are Dangerous', 22 July 1936 (v.2, n.27), p.20; 'Heroes in Fiction' (3), 7 July 1937 (v.3, n.18), p.561; Writers Between Two Wars. AEWS discussion course, 1943, p.63
109 'Not in the Text-Books', 29 Aug. 1934 (v.1, n.8), p.14. (See also 'Revolution and Literature'; 'Post-war Paralysis', 5 Feb. 1936 (v.2, n.13), p.8)
110 'More about the Puritans', 8 Dec. 1937 (v.4, n.3), pp.81-2
111 Writers Between Two Wars, p.69
112 'Maxim Gorki', pp.12-13
113 The DanceofLife', 10 Apr. 1935 (v.1, n.38), p.11
114 Ibid., p.1
115 'The Progress of Pessimism', p.339; Writers Between Two Wars, p.57; 'Revolution and Literature', p.24
116 'Tarzan of the Apes', p.630; 'Worms', 3 Oct. 1934 (v.1, n.13), p.10
117 'On Keeping Up', 9 Jan. 1935 (v.1, n.25), p.8; 'The Dance of Life', p.12
118 'Revolution and Literature', p.24
119 'Literature in the Land of the Soviets II', p.13
120 D. Glover and I. Milner (eds.), New Poems. Christchurch: The Caxton Club Press, 1934, foreword; Curnow, A Book of New Zealand Verse1923-45. Christchurch: Caxton Press, 1945, pp.17, 22
121 C. Brasch, 'The Islands', in Collected Poems. Ed. A. Roddick. Auckland: Auckland University Press/Oxford University Press, 1984, p.17
122 Glover and Rhodes (eds.), Verse Alive. Christchurch: Caxton Press, 1936, foreword; Verse Alive, 2, 1937, preface
123 Glover and Milner, New Poems, foreword
124 'Squirts and Squibs', 2 Feb. 1938 (v.4, n.7), p.213
125 'Literature in the Land of the Soviets III: Proletarian Writers', 13 Mar. 1935 (v.1, n.34), p.14; 'Literature in the Land of the Soviets I', 27 Feb. 1935 (v.1, n.32), p.10
126 'The Roof of the World', 15 Apr. 1936 (v.2, n.20), p.18; also 'Literature in the Land of the Soviets III', p.13
127 Canterbury College Review, 84, Oct. 1932, p.84
128 Carter, '"History was on our side"', p.109
129 'The Writers' International', 24 July 1935 (v.1, n.39), p.13
130 Curnow, A Book of New Zealand Verse 1923-45, pp.16,15
131 R. E. Harley, 'Politics and Public Themes in New Zealand Literature 1930-1950, with special attention to Mulgan, Sargeson, Mason, Fairburn, Curnow'. PhD thesis, University of Auckland, 1980
132 Phoenix, Mar. 1932 (v.1, n.1), pp.[1-3]
133 'The Cult of Culture', p.12
134 'Tarzan of the Apes', p.631
135 'A Spectre and a Faith' (2), pp.13-14; 'Writers in Australia', p.309
136 'Training in Film Criticism—From School to University', 18 Mar. 1936 (v.2, n.18), p.23
137 'On Swearing', p.12; 'Squirts and Squibs', p.213
138 'The Writers' International', p.13; 'On Swearing', p.13
139 'Keeping it Dark', 20 Nov. 1935 (v.2, n.4), p.16; 'The Cult of Culture', p.12