"A Colonial Tale of Fact and Fiction": Nineteenth-Century New Zealand Novels by Women

by Mackay, Morag

Abstract (Summary)
This thesis plots the emergence and development of the nineteenth-century New Zealand women's novel. Previously silenced in favour of a masculinist nationalist tradition, a renewed interest in our earliest literary foremothers has arisen as a result of feminism. Arguing for their acknowledgement as part of our literary history, this thesis examines the significance of these novels in the recording and formulation of a New Zealand culture and literature. The body of the thesis is constructed of three chapters, each representing a different literary from used by these novelists. The earliest is the adventure story, showcasing New Zealand's flora and fauna for the British reading public, and providing excitement in the from of the New Zealand wars, cannibalism, whaling and natural disasters. Second comes the romance, which portrays the developing colonial society and begins to define what it means to be a "New Zealander". Part B of this chapter discusses the treatment of Maori in these women's novels. It examines a group of romances with part-Maori protagonists, in which the novelists address the issue of the place of Maori in the new society. Last are the didactic novels, in which temperance, religion and women's rights are argued for. This thesis considers the characteristics of each of these forms of novel and examines the social and political contexts that gave rise to these choices. Through their novels these women communicate what it meant to be a colonial New Zealand woman - revealing their views on such issues as colonisation, relationship with Maori, the new "classless" society, marriage, and opportunities for women. They reveal a concern with the development of "the New Zealander", a New Zealand literature and culture, and evidence a developing sense of national identity.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Aorewa McLeod

School:The University of Auckland / Te Whare Wananga o Tamaki Makaurau

School Location:New Zealand

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:01/01/2003

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