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The First World War in New Zealand Fiction

New Zealand fiction in which the First World War features either directly or indirectly has steadily grown in volume since the end of the war in 1918. Well-known texts, such as Passport to Hell (1936) and Once on Chunuk Bair (1982), have been the subjects of much literary criticism and evaluation. But there are several more New Zealand texts that fall within the sub-genre of Great War fiction that have not been subject to the same academic scrutiny; nor has there been a comparative study of these texts. Some of these include Robin Hyde’s Nor The Years Condemn (a less well-known sequel to Passport to Hell) as well as more contemporary novels such as Elizabeth Knox’s After Z-Hour and C.K. Stead’s Mansfield, along with short texts such as Barbara Anderson’s ‘Real Beach Weather’ and Dean Parker’s counterfactual essay ‘What if a poet had taken us out of the Great War?’. This thesis seeks to fill this gap in academic thought by closely examining several fictional accounts, and detecting both their differences, but also the common concerns that might unify them beyond merely including reference to the First World War. The thesis addresses the motives behind writing about the war, and its haunting nature, before moving on to a discussion of the presence (or lack thereof) of the Gallipoli myth in our fiction. The thesis then explores the different ‘worlds’ of the war, both literally and metaphorically, including the use of pastoral New Zealand as a contrast to the industrialised front. Finally, the thesis examines the impact of the war on heterosexual relationships, and how the fiction responds to this often unremembered legacy of the Great War.
Type of thesis
Wood, R. (2016). The First World War in New Zealand Fiction (Thesis, Master of Arts (MA)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/10732
University of Waikato
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