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

John Mulgan

John Mulgan. The feeling that "you were English and not English . . . hanging on with one hand, and the other hand full of seas" was expressed by others at this time besides Robin Hyde, notably by John Guthrie and the two Mulgans, father and son. Alan Mulgan's Home, 1927, epitomises the allegiance of the New Zealander who hung on with both hands; John Mulgan's autobiography Report on Experience, 1947, is by a "godwit" who made the Northern migration, only to learn on the other side of the world that home is here in New Zealand, and that only from home, when one has understood it for what it is, can one extend sympathy and loyalty to common humanity, for we are all "garrisons pent up in little fort . . ."

Report on Experience should be read for its picture of the generation who, in Robin Hyde's words, "loved England still, but ceased to be 'forever England'", who "became, for so long as we have a country, New Zealand". John Mulgan's picture of the New Zealand he had come to love most when he had left it is idealised eloquently with the same kind of poetic heightening as you will detect in Robin Hyde. It is a moving testament of a new, more mature kind of patriotism; John Mulgan is no "aggressively insular New Zealander . . . babbling of bellbirds".