The New Zealand Novel 1860-1965
The First New Zealand Novels
The First New Zealand Novels. The first New Zealand novels are pioneer memoirs thinly disguised, and exhibit an uneasy marriage of fact and fiction, of documentary handbook and elaborate plot. Faced with totally unfamiliar environments and unheard-of experiences, the early settlers licked their pencils and set to work earnestly to convert it all into the plot-threaded adventures of somebody else.
There may be said to be four stages to the development of New Zealand fiction—recording, exploiting, preaching, and interpreting. The true business of the novel, in its maturity, is surely the last—to interpret something to somebody. Our writers did not reach this stage until after the turn of the century, and many of course are still today writing more to exploit our supposedly exotic setting than to deal truthfully with a vision of life.
As so few of the early New Zealand novels are available to readers, except in specialist libraries, details will be given of their content.