AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

A world like this: existentialism in New Zealand literature

by Dale C Benson

Institution: University of Otago
Year: 0
Record ID: 1299633
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/5426


Literary existentialism has evolved unevenly in New Zealand since the late-nineteenth century. In this thesis I will define and trace the pre-existentialism of the early pioneers and settlers, which originally emerged as a Victorian expression of their experiences in an unpredictable new environment. Then I will describe how during the 1930s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s some of their descendants modified their world-view with ideas popularly associated with French literary existentialism, including notions about the individual's freedom and responsibility to act in an unmediated universe. Finally, I will conclude that references to existentialism are relatively rare in contemporary New Zealand literature because in a predominantly secular society the struggle to survive in a godless, indifferent universe has been absorbed into New Zealand writers' continuing preoccupation with the necessity of fellowship.