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



"Touching on this point, Robert Chapman, writing in Landfall of March, 1953 . . . says this: 'For a New Zealand writer to choose the technique of omniscient narration from a platform outside the action would disperse the emotional force engendered by participation and constriction, while letting the writer in for the whole task of drawing the social diagram.'

"Coming along six years later as an apprentice practitioner, I can only agree. The task of ominiscience seems an almost impossible burden for a New Zealander—to be a historian and a sociologist as well as a novelist, without that foothold outside your class to make the necessary observations, seems too much to expect."

Another handicap for the New Zealand novelist in New Zealand "concerns this same homogeneous society in which we live. The fact is, that it generates very little energy. I'm speaking as a journalist now and believe me, it's amazing how little happens. If the grass stopped growing we'd be really in trouble. But writers haven't got built-in generators—they need to be revitalised time and time again by the community about them. And if the community's vitality is low, the writer suffers most. The effect on the community of the 40-hour week, the long weekend and 13 or 14 public holidays a year is sheer disaster for him. So not only is the poor devil trapped in his single class, his single region—it's a fairly lifeless class and region, too."

New Zealand writers, said Mr Cross, had pretty well reached the limits of their exploitation of children.

"However, what has the adult world given the New Zealand writer? One depression, one war and many, many games of rugby football. If there hasn't been anything else to inspire the writer, the weakness is not necessarily in his talent."

Mr Cross praised various of the earlier New Zealand novelists (though he thought we have not yet produced a novelist of the first class), and strongly criticised the poor reception they had received from New Zealand critics. He called Guthrie Wilson "the only New Zealand novelist since 1945 who has tried to live and write in New Zealand. Against all odds, in the face of all difficulties. There's no doubt at all in my mind of the importance of Wilson to the postwar literary scene. I haven't read any of his books lately . . . but I do recollect many elements of considerable craftsmanship in his work and a genuine feeling and a genuine searching of heart and mind. And he did nibble around the greatest problem for the New Zealand writer—that of using Mr Chapman's platform of omniscience—a problem that even Frank Sargeson has so far avoided."

Novelist Cross About N.Z.

Novelist Cross About N.Z.

Ian Cross is the present and first holder of the Burns Fellowship at O.U. Author of "God Boy," he has been chief reporter on the Dominion and defunct Southern Cross. He has tried his hand at gun running while working for a newspaper in Panama, and the lack of excitement after this possibly accounted for him becoming public relations officer for the N.Z. police before taking the Fellowship. The idea of writing fiction came to him while studying in the U.S. on a Nieman Fellowship. He has another book in the hands of his publishers at the moment, and 'God Boy" is being adapted for theatre, television and film.