Title: The New Zealand Novel 1860-1965

Author: Joan Stevens

Publication details: Reed Publishing (NZ) Ltd, 1966

Digital publication kindly authorised by: Sylvia Johnston

Part of: New Zealand Texts Collection

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The New Zealand Novel 1860-1965

Chapter 7 (pp. 95-112)

Chapter 7 (pp. 95-112)

1. One of the most obvious perils for the serious New Zealand novelist is that revealed by the libel action over Guthrie Wilson's Sweet White Wine. What should be the attitude of the creative artist to his raw material? How far may a writer go in drawing from life?

2. Three of the major novels of the 1950s show unusual technical skill—Spinster, Owls Do Cry and The God Boy. Would it be true to say that their special approach must have been dictated by the inwardness of the experience which is the subject of each novel? Would more external methods of storytelling have been so successful?

3. Would you agree that Ian Cross maintains exactly the right level for Jimmy's vocabulary and phrasing throughout The God Boy? (A beautiful gutzer, kids, sort of, do his block, like nobody's business, bullswool, a bit iffy, a heck of a splash.) When other persons are heard to speak—the nuns, Dad, Molly, Father Gilligan, Mum—is Jimmy's level of speech adapted accordingly?

4. Do any of the comments made in Incense to Idols about the New Zealand way of life seem to you to have a basis in truth?

5. In its issue of July 1932, the little Auckland magazine, Phoenix, in a remark already quoted, stated, "We are hungry for the words that shall show us these islands and ourselves; that shall give us a home in thought". Do you think that such words have yet been found by any of our novelists?