Maoriland: New Zealand Literature 1872 – 1914
The literature of Maoriland, as New Zealand was popularly known from the 1880s to the beginning of the First World War, remains the black hole in New Zealands literary memory. In the 1930s Allen Curnow and Denis Glover associated the Maoriland writers with sentiment, gentility and colonial deference. Today, Maoriland evokes a world of saccharine fantasy in which Maori warriors in heroic attitudes and Maori maidens in seductive ones inhabited outmoded Victorian literary forms, while at the same time the business of settlement sidelined and dispossessed actual Maori.
Maoriland: New Zealand Literature 18721914 argues that such glib dismissals of the past do disservice to the present, seeing in the writing of Maoriland something more complex and more diverse: the beginnings of a self-consciously New Zealand literature, which adapts European literary forms to the new place. In this period are the origins of much of New Zealands progressive social legislation, the roots of modern feminism, the establishment of ways in which we regard the natural world, and the manufacture of the defining roles by which we still enact our bicultural relations.
This is the first book to examine a crucial period in the shaping of New Zealand literature. It connects the cultural forms of Maoriland to both larger patterns of empire and contemporary criticism, looking at the writing in all its complexities, contradictions and evasions.
Praise for Maoriland
As cultural history, this is enlightening, detailed, judicious and a damned good read
Hard to see how any future attempts to trace New Zealand literary history will do without it.
Nicholas Reid LISTENER
Maoriland was a book begging to be written and Jane Stafford and Mark Williams have done a fine job in cultural recovery and reconstruction, investigating the literature of the period from the 1880s till the beginning of World War I, the heyday of the term's adoption as self-description by Pakeha New Zealanders. The book contains a lively discussion of the provenance of the term, its history and the meaning of the "embarrassment" it now arouses.
Terry Sturm DOMINION POST
By revisiting these writers, and opening up their works, this timely study both fills a gap as a general study, and establishes an under-read and undervalued period in our cultural history as a necessary lens for viewing what followed in Curnow's generation through to the present. Jeffrey Paparoa Holman THE PRESS
Stafford and Williams make a good case for their chosen writers, surveying their literary and biographical contexts and leaving you keen to seek out more of the seldom-published texts they sample here. Mark Houlahan METRO
In addition to being eminently readable and often highly entertaining, Maoriland is politically relevant and genuinely innovative in its claims, making it a welcome and necessary addition to New Zealand literary history.
Clare Barker, University of Leeds MOVING WORLDS
Maoriland is in itself both an illuminating reappraisal of a crucial period in New Zealand's literary history and an important step towards cultural maturity.
Kirstine Moffat JOURNAL OF NEW ZEALAND LITERATURE 24:1 (2006)
In Maoriland: New Zealand Literature 1872-1914, Jane Stafford and Mark Williams present what must surely be one of the most stimulating and intellectually satisfying contributions to our literary history in the past two decades... using a brand of writing that makes the work as useful for cultural historians as it undoubtedly will be for literary critics.
James Smithies JOURNAL OF NEW ZEALAND HISTORY April 2007
...Maoriland is one of the best works of literary and cultural history I have read for years.
Elizabeth Webby NEW ZEALAND BOOKS
JANE STAFFORD teaches in the School of English, Film, Theatre and Media Studies at Victoria University of Wellington. Her current research focuses on the literature of the late colonial period and her recent publications include the coedition Katherine Mansfields Men.
MARK WILLIAMS is associate professor of English at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch. He is the author of Leaving the Highway, Patrick White and coeditor of several anthologies of New Zealand poetry including An Anthology of New Zealand Poetry in English.
Mark Williams gave an extremely interesting Writers on Mondays Session
(thanks to Chris Price and the International Institute of Modern Letters for such a great programme this year) and has very kindly agreed that the text of his paper can be posted on this site:
An excerpt from Janes speech from the launch at Unity Books, Wellington
15 June 2006
We did not set out to argue in this book that these writers were neglected geniuses, so it would be inappropriate at this point to give you a reading from, say, Ranolf and Amohia: a South Sea Daydream or The Belle of the Kainga. For this you may feel grateful.
But although we didnt look for or find greatness, we did want to treat seriously a body of writing that has for so long been despised and ignored. However bizarre and at times unpalatable some of their opinions, these writers were intelligent, articulate members of late Victorian society. And in the writing we became familiar with, if not necessarily affectionate towards our subjects. They are a varied crew: a prime minister and a minister of the Crown, several schoolteachers and journalists, a failed farmer, a rebellious teenager longing for London. But they all inhabited a relatively small social world.
How successful, we wondered, would it be to invite them to this launch tonight?
For the full text please click here.