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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 1 (April 1, 1938.)

Among the Books

page 45

Among the Books

A Literary Page or Two

Since the death of Lindsay Buick in February much has been written and said in praise of the man and his work. I would like to add a few words in appreciation of him as a friend. Lindsay Buick was a generous soul. No matter how busy or deeply immersed in his literary work he would lay aside his pencil and give his welcome advice to those who sought for it. Even when I met him a few days before he died and mentioned that I was reading his “The Moa Hunters of New Zealand,” he, knowing my partiality for autographed copies of books for my library, said he would, if I wished, call at my office and sign my copy. He received many letters from people of considerable account in the historical world abroad. These appreciative letters, taken in conjunction with many communications he received from early settlers in New Zealand, would make a most interesting volume.

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I have a great admiration for our Ex Libris Society. In the face of serious difficulties it has endured for nearly a decade and every now and then has published brochures of considerable artistic interest. Why, they cannot even boast of an Ex Libris Society in England, and yet, in New Zealand, we have one that has outlived even the depression. The finest effort to date of our bookplate society is Brochure No. 4, which has recently been published. Of unusual and most artistic format it is a publication that will delight the heart of the bibliophile. Each book-plate is of New Zealand origin and is carefully mounted on brown paper with a frame of grey. Opposite each plate is a description telling to the last detail the points of the drawing, with apt quotation and perhaps a word or two of the artist and owner concerned. Only a super enthusiast like Johannes Andersen could have carried out this work with such artistry. The edition is limited to a hundred copies, and, like the three brochures preceding it, will undoubtedly be a collector's item.

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There has almost been a conspiracy of silence regarding Robin Hyde's book of poems “Persephone in Winter,” recently published by Hurst & Blackett. I have seen only one review. This is extraordinary, as it is one of the most striking collections of verse ever published in this country. I must be emphatic though on one point. Although I have a keen admiration for the art of “Robin Hyde” I do not agree with the sentiments expressed in several of the poems in this book. To many people in fact, some of her lines will be offensive. It must be remembered, however, that “Robin Hyde” is a rebel. Her antipathy to certain aspects of life is an obsession. At times her art of versification is fine, indeed. The lines are often white hot with the power of the words welded so perfectly together. Space will not allow me to mention in detail any of the eighty odd poems in the book. Even so, every poem is worthy of notice. One marvels at the genius behind their creator particularly so when we remember that in the last year or two “Robin Hyde” has had published three or four books and a multitude of newspaper articles. It seems that “Robin Hyde” must write to live and by that I do not mean that she has thereby earned enough money to allow her to live in comfort. I feel that the poor financial return she has had from her heavy labours has caused her to rebel in terms of words in the book I have so briefly discussed above.

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(Rly. Publicity photo.) A recent photograph of the imposing main entrance to Wellington's new station.

(Rly. Publicity photo.)
A recent photograph of the imposing main entrance to Wellington's new station.

At a recent auction sale of books in Wellington a young auctioneer's assistant was at times painfully embarrassed over the titles of the books he had to announce, there being no catalogue. At last he came to a title with which he was familiar. “Oliver Twist,” he announced, and then looking around proudly at the assembled bidders, he added loudly “by Charles Dickens.”

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A further step in its practical encouragement of literary endeavour in New Zealand is shown by the New Zealand Women Writers’ & Artists’ Society, in the fourth issue of its publication, “The Quill.” Some of the work in the latest number is quite good.

page 46

page 47

Through her story “Back Country Night,” Audrey King, in particular, shows promise. An eerie atmosphere is cleverly created in this story. During the year members of the Society have shown sufficient ability to win several literary competitions, a few have had contributions accepted by the “New Zealand Railways Magazine” and other publications, and at least two have been included in C. A. Marris's “Best Poems.”

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