Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol 6, No. 5. May 5, 1943
N.Z. New Writing
N.Z. New Writing
If one declines to consider this wolf in Penguin's clothing as a glorified "slum-annual" and disapproves of the "Bulletin"—which called it that—in any case, it is difficult to know what to do. Perhaps it would be better to do nothing; to wait for the next, and the next, and so on, until a tradition has been built and there was real ground for criticism. But the reviewer cannot do this. He must break in where angels would keep out.
There are high spots, but there are more shadows; there is novelty, but a surfeit of slavish imitation; there is clarity and beauty, but there is a morass of bad expression. To cap it all there is an inexcusable amount of sheer botchy writing.
Anna Kavin, I fancy, is the writer who hits the high notes longest and with moat poise, and this in spite of a difficult, unnecessary form. When she mentions the ice on the telephone wires, falling in "yards of frozen armature" she is going places—quickly.
Sargeson is artistically depressing, as always, but I don't know that this gets him (or us) anywhere. You say to yourself, "Yes, that's true. I'd never thought of it that way before." But what the hell! You aren't any the better for thinking of it that way; you don't feel any happier or more deeply moved. In the end you leave Sargeson where you found him, in the depresaion, where he's been embroiled for the last ten years.
"Unto Us" is a remarkable piece of graphic writing; true or untrue It makes a yarn almost up to "Truth" exemplar, but its incoherence and volubility detract from Its finality. Similarly, Gaskell's Maori-boy hu-moresque loses grist from incoherence and slipshod architecture.
In the verse were some real excellencies. Most of it was forceful, clean and even graceful, but lacked warmth of phrase, warmth of colouring and warmth of emotion. Its beauties were those of the whitened manuka skeletons, rather than of the full-grown shrub.
Anton Vogt, as often, is lucky in striking gold from a baser metal. Poetry comes unexpected from round some of his angular corners. A. R. D. Fairburn and Isobel Andrews strike the lyre with dignity and skill.
To sum up, I place this "natural child" higher than his more legitimate brothers, the English New Writings, which are seldom so alive, intense and experimental. Being of the classic tradition, however, I should like to see more beauty of thought and expression, more warmth of colouring (New Zealand is not a drear prison-houase), more architecture of form—and above all I demand clarity of conception, lacking which all [unclear: waiting] is as a ghost—without form and without utterance.