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

A Liberating Influence

A Liberating Influence. Writing for Sargeson's fiftieth birthday, a group of sixteen authors sent him an open letter printed in Landfall in March 1953, in which they spoke of him as "a liberating influence on the literature of this country". Among the crucial points page 73 they noted were that Sargeson had published "work true to his own country" and was recognised overseas, yet had not found it necessary to be an exile in the cultural centres of the Old World to do so ; that he had "turned over new ground" and "revealed that our manners and behaviour formed just as good a basis for enduring literature as those of any other country"; that he had "become a symbol in his own lifetime".

All these things are true. Robin Hyde, who was also born in 1903, spoke the exact truth when she made her assessment of what her generation had done for our literature. "We became . . . New Zealand."