Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

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

Poor Reviews

Poor Reviews

But Wilson, along with several others, was treated poorly by the New Zealand reviewers. Mr Cross quoted lengthy extracts from reviews of novels by Wilson, John A. Lee and John Guthrie, and gave his own assessments of the three writers, arguing that they had been very harshly and unsympathetically received by the New Zealand reviewers.

Lee, he said, was "the New Zealand writer, taking stock of all the obstacles that surround him, accepting what he is and where he is." And of Guthrie's Paradise Bay he said that it was one of the best New Zealand novels so far, "an attempt by a New Zealand writer to give an impression of a whole New Zealand community. And it is our first true comedy of merit Nostalgic, humorous, understanding, loving—Guthrie handled his subject with a quite beautiful control.

"I can't see how we can move from infancy to childhood without passing through an adolescence, gawky and awkward though it may be. It's clear, isn't it, that New Zealand has reached the end of a prolonged infancy—that it is time for the blocks and the toys to be locked away for ever—yet we are still at this standstill, clinging to page 5 infancy. Because, I believe, though we want to grow up we don't want to go through our adolescence . . . the dilemma of the New Zealand intellectual is his unconscious desire for cultural maturity without first suffering the indignity of adolescence."

On the harsh criticism of past good New Zealand novels, he said: "There's no doubt that the attack on Wilson and Guthrie and the dismissal of Lee [in Landfall reviews] were fair reflections of current local literary attitudes. . .

"The point is . . . that any outsider and newcomer who surveys the local literary scene must note that not only has no novelist of the post-war era survived in New Zealand—not only have there been considerable difficulties for a novelist wanting a vantage point and audience outside his own class or region—but that some of the few novelists, inside and outside, before him couldn't rely on a great deal of understanding and even faced a rather sneering hostility. The warmth that greeted the 1958 class suggests that we might be growing out of that rather unpleasant phase; it is to be hoped so.

"Now there is one thing I'm certainly not suggesting—that New Zealand novels should be accorded some kind of local standard of critical reception—although it is rather strange that in the past our novelists have been the only artists who haven't been accorded that standard."