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Publisher Description

When William Golder (1810-1876) published by subscription in 1852 The New Zealand Minstrelsy, the first volume of poetry printed and published in New Zealand, he had been living in the Hutt Valley north of Wellington for twelve years, having arrived on one of the first New Zealand Company ships, the Bengal Merchant, in 1840. (1) It was not his first publication. Before leaving Scotland he had published in 1838 a larger volume, also by subscription, containing poems, songs, and prose narratives, Recreations for Solitary Hours. (2) A selection from this volume was reprinted as an Appendix to The New Zealand Minstrelsy, making the latter volume as a whole exemplify the transitional character of emigrant culture--a physical disjunction between present and past, recovery of the past through recollection, and continuity in the translation of cultural forms and practices to the new place. Like the first Australian colonial poets discussed by Michael Ackland, (3) Golder saw the development of a national literature as an integral aspect of the formation of New Zealand as a modern nation. The New Zealand Minstrelsy offers a distinctive approach to satisfying this need, one deeply informed by Golder's social and cultural origins in the Scottish Lowlands. In their introduction to their anthology, Bards in the Wilderness: Australian Colonial Poetry to 1920, Brian Elliott and Adrian Mitchell affirm that "poetry is one of the expressions of the community consciousness; in surveying the poetry of Australia we have kept very much in mind the community which produced it, largely a provincial community.... [O]ur premise is that poetry cannot be divorced from the society or the times out of which it grew." (4) In Golder's case, the notion of community is a doubled one, including both the early establishment of settler society in the Wellington region and his continuing association at a distance with the community of his birthplace, Strathaven, and its region, the Scottish Lowlands in both their rural and their industrializing, urban aspects. Both of these communities can be described as provincial, but the relation between metropolis and province, empire and colony, is multilayered. As Michael Fry has argued, in their participation in the world-wide expansion of the British Empire, Scots carried with them their experience of internal colonization. (5) Furthermore, that experience of engagement with dominant English and European stereotypes of the Scot was productive of a cultural nationalism in Scotland which was based in Calvinist Protestantism, its contribution to the subsequent and distinctive development of the Scottish Enlightenment, and, as a specific aspect of that intellectual movement, in the reframing of oral traditions (both the Lowlands ballads and the Gaelic oral traditions of the clan culture of the Highlands under the bardic mantle of Ossian) as the locus of Scottish cultural difference and the foundation of Scottish national literature and culture. (6) Channels of communication which occur within the framework of empire but are not conducted through the center, described as transcolonial by Trumpener (pp. 289-291), are of considerable significance in making possible the sharing of kinds of knowledge, experience, and cultural production which are characteristic of settler communities and their complex relations with the intellectual and aesthetic cultures of the imperial homeland. (7)

Professional & Technical
September 22
West Virginia University Press, University of West Virginia
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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