Adventure and art : literature publishing in Christchurch, 1934-95.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This thesis charts the evolution of a publishing infrastructure in Christchurch, where a resourceful, and unusually professional commitment to the development of New Zealand literature has been exhibited. Specifically; it presents histories and preliminary bibliographical checklists of Caxton, Pegasus, Nag's Head, Hawk and Hazard Presses, as well as briefly examining the future of the publishing industry in the face of the Whitcoulls takeover and revolutionising computer technology. This examination of the development of a locally based publishing infrastructure provides insight into the development of a New Zealand literary canon, and goes some way towards contextualising the work of writers such as Allen Curnow, Janet Frame, Denis Glover, and Alan Loney. By contrasting the different dynamics that operate in the private presses of Gormack and Loney with the more commercial presses of Caxton, Pegasus and Hazard, the thesis draws attention to the complex relationships existing within institutions of literature production. The extent to which technological change is revealed to influence the development of literary movements emphasises the very public process that intervenes between author's imagination and the supposedly private act of reading. The establishment of an indigenous book culture is then located in a more international context, and is traced from its origins in the renaissance of printing in England in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, through a revitalisation of small presses in the 1970s (and the accompanying re-orientation of the cultural matrix to American models), to the impact of computer technologies in the eighties and nineties. The emergence of a distinct set of bibliographic codes (as per Jerome McGann's formulation of "the textual condition") is also contrasted with contemporaneous developments in the visual arts.