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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 12, No. 4. May 4th 1949

[Letter from Hugh Mason to Salient Vol. 12, No. 4. May 4th 1949]


I have had previews of both "Hilltop" and Eric Schwimmer's criticism of it shown to me. His remarks on the individual work were pointed and reasonable. But I fly into disagreement at his general and specific ramblings on "Hilltop." and hope I may help to annul his unjustified and derogatory assessments. "Hilltop" is not epic, but this first issue is by no means a failure. Schwimmer's' concern that the publication should be without a defined policy I refuse to share.

While the prevention of cruelty to humb animals and the propagation of our old pioneering families may, or may not be, quite worthy aims in life. I think a literary magazine may well exist without subordinating itself to any parallel restrictions in literature. John Thomson (whose work in producing the publication I applaud) has a motivation, if not to be termed policy, which appears exceedingly sound. The inadequacy and limitations of existing New Zealand literary publications. . . . (Yes, like that.)

It was decided that it should contain fiction, poetry, articles. Though it was to be produced by the literary society it was most realistically understood that a magazine Containing work of students only would have an appeal beyond, but little beyond, its contributors. The first issue was planned during the vacation and writing was solicited from those available, with limitations of time and the difficulties of contact.

Early, a tendency to favour young and less-established writers of prose and poetry was apparent. As first issues go they were fortunate enough to have enough stuff to make a selection possible. However, they, and most reasonably, hope to be more selcotive in subsequent issues. What would the magazine be doing with what sort of policy? It is a moderate prediction that the magazine's contents will be coloured by the tastes of the editor and his selection committee, again with the limitations of what is available, and over the year will represent poetry, prose and articles, fairly evenly. As the editorship and members of the society come and go the magazine will fluctuate, but, we hope, survive. I can agree with Schwimmer on the name "Hilltop." which reminds me of "Landslide," but, espite the stigma, its establishment will be welcomed and without the impediment of a definite policy it has a good chance of both progressing and recompensing those bludgeoned into subscribing to it.