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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 5, No. 1 March 26, 1942

Literary Editorial

page 3

Literary Editorial

It should hardly be necessary to emphasize the difficulties that face the literary section of "Salient" under war conditions. So far as these difficulties arise from the ab sence of many of our contributors on military service they are unavoidable, and must be endured. So far as they are due to the belief that literature is a rather more elegant alternative to horse-racing that should be tactfully abandoned for the duration of the war, they are unnecessary and should be eliminated.

There are obvious reasons why it is difficult to write well in war-time, but it is also obvious that, once these obstacles have been surmounted, something may be achieved of greater worth than would have been the case under more peaceful conditions. Those same circumstances that make it so difficult to secure the tranquillity necessary for the production of anything of artistic value provide at the same time a body of experience which, if it can be assimilated, may be of incalculable value to the writer In our present situation we must cither take the neurotic's way out by abandoning the aims of adult life for the less complicated standards of the nursery, or we can make an endeavour to be honest with ourselves and achieve some sort of unity between what we have done and thought and read in the past and what is happening to us now. It would be foolish to pretend that this struggle will find artistic expression with most people, but it will with some, and their work has a chance of being both less "private" and more profound than that arising from the less justified feelings of more tran quil days.

But we will not achieve anything by forcing ourselves to write only "war poetry" or seeking to deal with the immediate situation without reference to the deeper issues that lend them significance. In particular, we must avoid the disastrously provincial tendencies that are encouraged by the cessation of overseas contacts and the stimulation of patriotic feelings inevitable in war-time. If a genuinely natinoal [sic] literature, as distinct from a few provincial [unclear: whimsies,] is to be developed, it can only be after contact with the best of [unclear: what] is being written abroad, in both English and non-English-speaking countries. For this reason, and because much of the work of the greatest foreign writers is not available in translation in New Zealand, "Salient" will publish translations of sections of their work from time to time. Thus, next week we shall publish a translation of part of the first of Rilke's Duino Elegies, together with a note on his work.

But our greatest need is for original contributions, both verse and prose. We need the co-operation of all students if "Salient" is to fulfil the hopes expressed above.