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Publisher Description

In this essay I look at the early forms of poetic production and consumption in New Zealand--what was written and what was read. I argue that poetry served a function that was neither mimetic nor escapist but one of willed and consciously embraced incongruity, reading as disjunct rather than reading as realistic reflection or moral instruction. Suspicious of the presentism of the postcolonial lens and resistant to the temptation to assimilate all nineteenth-century literary activity under a simplistically conceived 'Victorian' rubric, this essay identifies an early nineteenth-century, late-Romantic colonial reading culture that was discrete and local yet part of broad patterns of transmission and reception. The abundant literary and poetic content of early New Zealand newspapers and reading journals, largely of minor and non-canonical poets, provokes a number of questions. Is there a transformative moment when reading goes offshore? What does 'localism' mean in the very early stages of colonial formation? And how does the call to interiority so central to the Romantic reading experience relate to the exterior world when that exterior is unmapped and untextualised? The first New Zealand newspaper, The New Zealand Gazette, was printed not on the windy foreshore of Petone, beside the Nelson boulder bank, or on a hill overlooking the Waitemata, but in Little Pulteney Street in the Parish of St James Westminster. With the imaginative power that had enabled Edward Gibbon Wakefield to write A Letter from Sydney while in Newgate Prison, New Zealand Company members, in particular editor Samuel Revans, wrote the colony into existence some time before the ships actually set sail for Port Nicholson. The orientation of the Gazette was of necessity practical: its classified advertisements feature ships, banks and churches, portable colonial cottages and inodorous chamber conveniences. But there is also, in keeping with the high ideals of the Company founders, a nod towards culture. The bookseller John Bohn offers catalogues of English, foreign and classical works. And alongside the stern pragmatics of terms of purchase and instructions from the board there is note of the intention to found 'Scientific and Philanthropic Institutions for the benefit of the British Settlers and Native Inhabitants of the Islands of New Zealand', including a library and a museum. The founders solicit

Professional & Technical
November 1
University of Waikato
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

More Books by JNZL: Journal of New Zealand Literature