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The Spike or Victoria College Review 1938



In the competition this year verse and prose have been separated, but no one form has been laid down for the prose entries, and there is almost enough variety in them to make me wonder what a biologist would feel like if he were asked to judge between a dog, a camel, a hedgehog and a spider. There are only eight entries, and, with two exceptions, the quality is not striking. One or two appear to have been dashed off, and are not much more than paragraphs. The two that are outstanding are C. G. Watson's "But There Will be Day," an essay, to which I have awarded the prize, and "Belinda," a story which is unsigned. I have chosen "But There Will be Day" because the writer has ideas and can express them. He has seen something more in a play than most people would see, and he has linked the lessons of the play with current affairs, from his point of view, in an original and forceful way. He knows what he wants to say, and says it clearly and directly, following the argument by the short effective route and working up to an excellent climax. The simplicity and force of the writing are refreshing.

"Belinda" is a rather thin, sketch-story of a girl in a factory. The minutiae of everyday life in Wellington are well observed, and there is something pathetic in the figure of this girl caught up in a commonplace coil of circumstances. Here also the English is simple and telling. The other entries do not call for much comment. "Murder" is a fantastic trifle about an admirer of Aldous Huxley who murders a woman in a crowded tram because she makes nasty remarks about her hero. The irony in the fact that Huxley believes in non-resistance may have escaped the writer. The end has a grim humour that suggests she might do something on a larger canvas. "Man in the Street" is an attempt to adapt style to the lot of a victim of the slump. It faintly suggests possibilities of a literature that would be much less polite than most New Zealand books, and therefore perhaps welcome.

In "Two Men Died," we have the too-familiar figure of a bishop. There might well be a close season for satirised bishops. This one lay between silk sheets. I doubt if even film stars sleep in silk sheets—not because they would be too expensive, but because they would not be comfortable. However, one can never be sure.

Alan Mulgan.