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C. K. Stead and three modes of New Zealand poetry [microform]
Bib ID 3283775
Format MicroformMicroform, BookBook
Phillipson, Allan Robert
Description 491 p. 
ISBN 0612251373

The majority of New Zealand's poetry critics take a purist and prescriptive approach to their subject, dividing poems and poets into one of three modes: realism, modernism and postmodernism. Furthermore, critics usually hold up one of these modes as the 'best' way to write, dismissing the others. My thesis argues for an adjustment of that paradigm to allow for poetry that crosses boundaries and combines aspects of more than one mode. C. K. Stead's writing illustrates both of these tendencies: purist theories in his critical work, post-purist practice in his poetry. Stead's career covers a broad cross-section of New Zealand's recent literary history, from 1951 to 1997. Chapter one introduces this period by surveying its critical methodologies, arguing for a shift away from the dominant purist paradigm. This opening chapter also proposes an adjustment in one of the turning points in New Zealand's literary history, the arrival of modernism.

Most surveys place that arrival at approximately 1970, ignoring the publication of Stead's "Pictures in a Gallery Undersea" in 1959, likely the first modernist long poem written by a New Zealander. Chapters two and three explore Stead's modernism in theory and in practice, and provide the first detailed critical discussion of "Pictures in a Gallery." Chapter four casts back to Stead's early use and rejection of realism, while chapter five shows realism continuing in a seam that runs throughout his work. Having established a mixture of realism and modernism, Stead then demonstrates his skill with postmodernist techniques, creating a three-way mixture of modes. Chapter six shows how that mixture develops in his poetry, while chapter seven traces a similar pattern in his fiction. Finally, chapter eight explores how the later poems cross these categorical boundaries, developing a poetic that relaxes hierarchical divisions.

Stead's practice contravenes the prescriptions of many New Zealand poetry critics--and it particularly counters his own purist critical arguments in favour of modernism. This thesis proposes a criticism that can allow for and describe Stead's post-purist practice. My conclusion suggests that this post-purist approach applies not only to the work of C. K. Stead, but also to some of the recent work by other New Zealand poets, such as Allen Curnow, Bill Manhire and Ian Wedde.



Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 59-01, Section: A, page: 0184.

Adviser: W. H. New.

Thesis (Ph.D.)--The University of British Columbia (Canada), 1997.

Reproduction Microfiche. Ann Arbor, Mich.: University Microfilms International. 
Subjects Literature, English.  |  Literature, Modern.
Other authors/contributors The University of British Columbia (Canada)


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