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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 22, No. 8. August 3, 1959



"Now the New Zealander going to England receives some nourishment as a novelist, it seems to me, but certainly not as a New Zealander. James Courage has virtually 'passed over' and become an English novelist. Dan Davin ... is going to set one more novel in New Zealand and then make the transition to English novels. David Ballantyne has been in London about five years now and has published nothing. A New Zealander, Bill Pearson . . . wrote from London in Landfall, September 1952 'We New Zealanders have far less in common with the English middle classes than we may think and at best they will patronise us and emasculate us.'

"My own rather brief observations in London lead me to a similar conclusion. There's no informed and interested class in London to stimulate and sustain a New Zealand novelist. He won't find an audience delighted with his recognitions concerning Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin; they don't know enough to share his recognition; they don't care enough. So he's much more likely to have his nationality smothered. It's a tragedy, surely, that Courage and Davin, two of the strongest talents we've produced since 1945, are losing or have lost their nationality—at least as far as its exploration by the novel is concerned—and are in danger of becoming no more of New Zealand than writers born in Lancashire or Sussex.

"Of course the New Zealander who settles overseas for any length of time will always have a New Zealand childhood or adolescence to recall—as Mansfield did—but such recollections are going to be of little value in the future. So it looks as though the aspiring New Zealand novelist must remain in his single class, in his single region. There seems to be no way out for him.

"This situation, both for the novelist and the short story writer, explains the narrowness of our range. It is, of course, the explanation for our constant use of the first person—without this foothold outside his region from which to make his observations, without an interested audience outside his class within whose terms of reference and range of recognitions he can work, he must naturally fall back on the first person. Consciously or unconsciously he is bowing down to the limitations imposed on him by his situation. For when the writer uses the first person he doesn't have to account for anything that is outside the range of comprehension of his central character.