The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 4 (July 1, 1938.)
One of the most interesting events in the local literary world this year is the appearance of “Tales by New Zealanders,” an anthology published by the British Authors’ Press. C. R. Allen, who has edited the collection, has every reason to feel pleased with the results of his long labours. The volume is nicely produced, it has a flattering foreword by Sir Hugh Walpole and has an imposing list of contributors. The last-mentioned include Hector Bolitho, G. B. Lancaster, Eileen Duggan, Will Lawson, John H. Lee, Nelle Scanlan, Alan Mulgan, Edith Howes, and “Robin Hyde.” Now all this sounds impressive, but how do the stories line up to it all? Generally speaking they are of a high standard, two or three are exceptionally so, and only a few are just ordinary. There is a freshness and sincerity about most of the stories that must impress everybody. They have been drawn from many sources—“The Bulletin,” “The Triad,” “Art in New Zealand,” The “New Zealand Artists’ Annual,” “The Sydney Mail” and other journals known for their encouragement of short stories of quality. “The Truce,” by Una Craig, impressed me greatly. It is a fine piece of writing and almost a model short story. John Lee's “Of a Broken Heart” could take its place in almost any short story anthology. There is a fine dramatic touch about “Trails End,” by C. H. Fortune. “Rain From Heaven,” by Eileen Duggan, a strongly-welded story with an historical foundation, is also well worthy of mention. Two stories, one by Jean Bradwell and the other by Eric Bradwell, are excellent in their way but are spoiled in that they have an anticlimax built on the same theme and are unfortunately placed side by side in the collection. Young writers who stand out favourably in this collection are Gloria Rawlinson and Constance-Player Green. Any contributors not mentioned in this brief notice are omitted, not because of lack of merit, but owing to space limitations.
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Although it was published a few months ago it was not until recently that I had an opportunity of reading Dr. A. J. Harrop's “England and The Maori Wars,” a book of great importance and interest to this country. It is an imposing looking book of over 400 pages, is well illustrated and indexed, and contains a map of the Maori War areas. The jacket design, the work of F. H. Coventry, a young New Zealand artist who has found success abroad, is a striking piece of work. All this is very interesting when we know that the book is the first product of New Zealand News, London. It is certainly a most impressive beginning. Dr. Harrop is the right man for this important literary undertaking. His style is clear and concise and his facts carefully presented. He examines England's policy during the Maori Wars and presents and analyses many important documents relating thereto. Theories of Imperial defence and colonial self-government are outlined, and we see the gradual development revealed. As the author inquires in his introduction—was it possible to throw on the colonists the onus of self-defence without cutting them off from the Motherland? Was it possible to include in Colonial self-government control of native races protected by Treaty with the Government? Was it worth while to retain colonies at all if they were to be almost entirely independent? These and other important questions are examined in the light of the historical evidence. The whole story, so well told, is a most interesting one.
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A strange book about strange people with a strange fascination about it all—this is Gloria Rawlinson's first novel “Music In the Listening Place.” At times the story is happy and at times wistful and occasionally sad, but it is always beautiful. Early in the story we glimpse the strong mind of Aroha Park as she regards the dead body of the village grocer swaying gently beneath the water below the six elderly willows by the river bank. To Aroha's fantastic mind the body doesn't seem at all sad or sorry for itself, “flapping its arm or dabbling its face in the water.”
Aroha is the daughter of the “mad Parks,” and as she wanders on through the pages studded with the beauties of Nature, we meet the oddest folk imaginable, from Calcutta Jim and his donkey to Jim Yen, Dr. Bird, Eagar, the funny little people who live in the mountain, and last but by no means least, Ranata, the irresistible Maori. They are all queer but lovable people. This is the most unusual book ever written in this country, and though it may not bring Gloria Rawlinson as many sales as her books of poems it will certainly add to her reputation as a writer of brilliant fancy.
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