Now, at 19, I realise how little I have read in the past few years. I've spent wasted hours on social networking sites and.. I'm gutted.
Here I am.
- Wellington, New Zealand
- member since March 9, 2010
Sonya’s last login was Sunday, July 1, 2012.
You needn't be envious of my summer - I work full time in an office instead of being out in it, but I'm trying my hardest to keep a positive perspective! I do, however, get to go to Humboldt on my own for orientation at the end of June! And I bought four rolls of films yesterday - that's more exciting than anything else at the moment!
Just wanted to welcome you to the Best English-Language Fiction of the Twentieth Century group – the name rolls right off the tongue doesn’t it…
Feel free join in with any of the discussions already on the board or start up a new one any time you like.
Again, glad you joined up and I look forward to picking at the threads with you.
See you around the shelves.
Um, plenty of things I guess. For a start it's just worthwhile to read solely becuase you gain from it so much in terms of, being able to better contextualise your reading/viewing/listening to of other New Zealand texts/cultrual products, and in terms of better understanding New Zealand society at large and its foundations. The novel right so, Mulgan's of that first generation of NZ writers, that really see themselves as New Zealanders. Certianly people like KM came before this, but she ran off to England, and while using NZ as material for her writing, never was concerned with NZ as an idea, not truely concerned with its peoples, it as a Nation. But Mulgan was. And his text really is the pincacle of that literature which first concerned itself with what New Zealand WAS.
And WAS (or IS, from his perspective writing in the time about the time) is key here, because most anything produced up untill this point, any 'cultrual product' steming from NZ, had been concerned with what New Zealand SHOULD BE. Everyone's favourite example here of course is Mulglan's father's own novel, whatever it was called, which was indeed some sort of idealised drivel about how NZ should be, a 'New England', 'Better Britian' etc. etc. which most literary critics see Mulgan strongly reacting against. 'God's own country' radah radah.
And so Man Alone is this first kind of attempt by a (Pakeha, we must remember) New Zealander to define what New Zealand is like, and, what New Zealanders are like. And you know it's intresting coz, really, it's pretty bleak. We get that idealised set up at the start, Johnson hearing from some guys in France NZ is mean as, then he arrives and it's a little shit. And generally from there, it gets progressively shitter. The nicest thing about NZ, we learn, is that you can kind of do your own thing, be your own man, a man alone. But even this turns to custard, of course. And Johnson has to go back to England (which isn't much fun either. Mulgan's rather pessimistic all round, huh. And then he goes and kills himself...). In all this too (sorry this is really getting a bit muddled) is certianly a strong crtique of what Mulgan does see as this 'man alone' national charater. One just has to look at the Hemmingway quote that the title stems from (it's something like 'A man alone, ain't got a bloody chance' right?) to see that. And in the characterisation too I mean, Johnson is a man alone, and what comes from this? Trouble. The isolation lands him in a bad situation, and he has to run into the bush, which = more isolation, and more trouble. The more he becomes a 'man alone' and conforms to this national sertotype, the worse his condition is, and in this way i think Mulgan really does show its absurdity, through taking it to the nth degree, to the point where Johnson has to leave the bush and seek out community again, friendships (that Dutch guy, etc.), to help him out. And then he even has to leave NZ. In the end, the only place he's safe, is going off with a few guys he feels kind of close to, to fight in Spain. Now this is not particularily because he beleives in the cause I don't think, but only because he's now resigned to and accepted the fact that community is neccessary for man. He doesn't particularily like it either way, and here Mulgan is horribly pessimistic bordering on nihlistic, but the novel ends in a situation where if Johnson wants to continue a life in some form or other (i.e. not locked up in jail), he has to embrace a community, and a common cause, direction, some degree of unity with other men.
I find New Zealand such a strange, unique and young (this is key - a nation that only began to tackle its identity in the 20th century, in the midst of depression and world war - the importiance of these factors cannot be over-stated in this novel.) country. And Mulgan's work kind of epitomises this. Mmm, I could go on... but I'll stop here haha, enough already. Also I just love reading Mulgan's descriptions of NZ landscapes, the mountian ranges, the farmland, the desert... constantly reading European and American literature - you just don't realise how much of a joy it is to have something in your hands set in the land YOU know, huh.