A Dual Exile? New Zealand and the Colonial Writing World, 1890-1945
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
It is commonly thought that New Zealand writers before World War II suffered from a "dual exile". In New Zealand, they were exiled far from the publishing opportunities and cultural stimulus of metropolitan centres. To succeed as writers they were forced to go overseas, where they endured a second kind of spiritual exile, far from home. They were required to give up their "New Zealandness" in order to achieve literary success, yet never completely belonged in the metropolitan centres to which they had gone. They thus became permanent exiles. This thesis aims to discover the true prevalence of "dual exile" amongst early twentieth-century New Zealand writers. Using both quantitative and qualitative analysis, it argues that the hypothesis of "dual exile" is a myth propagated since the 1930s by New Zealand‘s cultural nationalist tradition. New Zealand writers were not exiles because of the existence of the "colonial writing world"—a system of cultural diffusion, literary networks and personal interactions that gave writers access to all the cultural capital of Britain through lines of communication established by colonial expansion. Those who went to Britain remained connected to New Zealand through these same networks. The existence of the colonial writing world meant that the physical location of the writer, whether in New Zealand or overseas, had far less impact on literary success than the cultural nationalists assumed.