The Spike [or Victoria University College Review 1954]
The University of N.Z. as Publisher
The University of N.Z. as Publisher
The publications of the New Zealand University Press since 1949 fall fairly readily into three groups—text books, works of scholarship, and more general work.
The two text books, Professor P. S. Arden's First Readings in Old English and Professor I. A. Gordon's English Prose Technique, were not new issues, but went into their second edition in 1952 and 1953 respectively. These are the most successful books that the Press has issued: sound reliable texts which have gained acceptance both here and overseas. Professor Arden's book is a set text in at least one English University.
In July 1952 the Press issued T. S. Eliot and Walt Whitman by Professor S, Musgrove of A.U.C., a 90-page booklet bound in boards. A passing infatuation with the works of one writer is a well-known introduction to the powers of literature and Eliot himself speaks of going through "the usual adolescent course of Byron, Shelley, Keats, Rossetti, Swinburne." The thesis of Professor Musgrove's essay is "that a rejection of Whitman is an important and unrecognised stage in Eliot's progress to poetical and philosophical maturity."page 28
Professor E. M. Blaiklock, professor of Classics at A.U.C., also had a work of scholarship published during 1952. The Male Characters of Euripides is an important book which brings credit both to its author and to the New Zealand University Press and which has had sales in a satisfying number of countries, despite its high price of thirty-five shillings. Of nearly 270 pages, it is bound in terracotta cloth. There is little doubt that this is a book which would have found a ready publisher in England or America, and Professor Blaiklock's decision to appear under the N.Z.U.P. imprint, despite a certain reduction in sales, is both loyal and generous.
The latest book to appear from University House is also the largest; a two-volume work by Dr. F. H. McDowall of the Dairy Research Institute entitled The Buttermaker's Manual. Unique in its field, it contains much material never before collected in book form. It is encyclopaedic in scope and likely to remain for many years the standard reference for butter factory managers and operators, and all concerned with dairy plant in any way. The two fat volumes total over 1800 pages and cost ten guineas. The publication of this book by the N.Z.U.P. is another example of intelligent liaison between the University and New Zealand's foremost industry, and is a part answer at least to a charge of ivory towerism.
It is in the category of more general works that success has been hardest achieve.. Mental Health in New Zealand, a pamphlet by Professor Ernest Beagle-hole on an important subject, has had disappointingly small sales. Mr. E. C Simpson's Signpost to Art is an excellent book which has gained too little response from the public. It seems that the heightened interest in art during and immediately after the war had dwindled too much by the time this book was published in 1950. Mr. Simpson was a part-time lecturer in art to the A.E.W.S., where his material was well received. A book of poems by Mr. A. R. D. Fairburn, Lecturer in the History of Art at A.U.C. was published in 1952, and sold well at first, although there is only a spasmodic current demand. Called Three Poems, it contains "Dominion," "The Voyage" and "To a Friend in the Wilderness," of which the last two have been successfully broadcast.
As the New Zealand University Press is working with limited capital the failure of any of its books must curtail its ability to accept further manuscripts for publication. But by publishing at all the University takes a lead in establishing a tradition of scholastic publishing in New Zealand. Dr. J. C. Beaglehole is chairman of the Press Board which arranges the publication of N.Z.U.P. books and their good design and uncluttered typography is largely due to his sure sense of what is right, his enthusiasm and knowledge. In title-pages and tables of contents, the two chief places where a book designer has scope for individuality and experiment, N.Z.U.P. books are formal without being stuffy and imaginative without being over-exuberant. Although the press-work has not always been of this quality the N.Z.U.P. has not issued a really badly printed book, and authors and publisher are to be congratulated for the high standard generally maintained.