Paul Millar

Spark to a Waiting Fuse: James K. Baxter's Correspondence with Noel Ginn

ISBN: 9780864734006

‘Spark to a Waiting Fuse very significantly changes the perception of Baxter’s early career, and in ways that substantially affect the critical response to the entire oeuvre’
—Vincent O’Sullivan

Spark to a Waiting Fuse is a landmark in New Zealand literary scholarship. In these 56 letters to his slightly older friend, then imprisoned as a conscientious objector, the teenage James K. Baxter pours out his ideas and feelings on life, philosophy and his own work. With the inclusion of the complete texts of the 255 poems written at the time and discussed in the letters, most of them published here for the first time, this is an extraordinary insight into the formative years of our most significant poet.

Paul Millar’s introduction, an important work of biographical criticism in its own right, puts Baxter’s ideas and interests within the contexts of the wider public events and intellectual and spiritual currents of his time, so that this is also a major contribution to New Zealand social history.

Praise for Spark to a Waiting Fuse

...a landmark in the study of NZ's literary history

...a remarkable book, which allows us a rare glimpse into the mind of the young and raw Baxter.

Steve Scott PRESS

This is a huge contribution to Baxter scholarship.

Mark Houlahan EVENING POST

...the volume is an excellent work of literary scholarship.

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