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A critical lamp in a dark world, Helen Watson White

Charles Brasch: Journals 1958-1973
Charles Brasch, selected by Peter Simpson
Otago University Press, $60.00,
ISBN 9781988531144 

“How many existences one leads at once,” wrote Dunedin poet, critic, patron and Landfall editor Charles Brasch in 1958: 

I am here with LF work & household chores … I am haunted by the state of the world – the Near East, nuclear tests, the fear of war; I live through Dr Zhivago & its world; Rodney’s & Douglas’s worlds & those of other friends, & Emily [Forsyth]’s, & the de Beers at Raasay now; & Andrew who has gone to Adelaide is with me constantly; & as I prepare to go to Chch tomorrow Pearl draws near, & Harry & Margaret (whose house at Clifton, 31 Tuawera Terrace, has at last been sold, to their immense relief, although it doesn’t pay off all their debts; & J[ames Bertram] will be in Chch at the weekend; Kate, Tim, Penny [Thompson]; & I must see Ruth France … the list goes on & on. And my own life winds through all these in its own way. 

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Grudging nationalist, Mark Williams

Charles Brasch: Journals 1945-1957
Peter Simpson (ed)
Otago University Press, $60.00,
ISBN 9781927322284

I approached this book rather in the spirit of someone visiting a civic monument to a figure august and admired, but obscurely known. In the late 1980s, as one of the many editors of Landfall in that period, I spent time in the Caxton Press checking proofs, following a tradition of care established by Charles Brasch 40 years earlier. But the strong ghosts I recall in a building filled with reminders of eminence were those of Janet Frame, whose visits and material remnants still held occult power, and Robin Dudding, veiled in a scandalous story that I gathered had more than one way of telling. Brasch’s presence was fainter somehow, less detectable in the busy workings of the printing house that had hosted him and sacked his heir, Dudding.

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Posted in History, Non-fiction, Review, Sociology

Constant uncertainty, Dougal McNeill

Journals 1938-1945 Charles Brasch Margaret Scott (transcriber), Andrew Parsloe (annotator) Otago University Press, $60.00, ISBN 9781877372841 Enduring Legacy, the Hocken Library’s 2003 exhibition marking the release of Charles Brasch’s papers from their embargo, was subtitled “patron, poet and collector”. Brasch

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Posted in Essays, Non-fiction, Poetry, Review

Good old immortal artists, Vincent O’Sullivan

  Dear Charles Dear Janet: Frame and Brasch in Correspondence Pamela Gordon and Denis Harold (eds) Holloway Press, $250.00, ISBN 9780986461804   As I’ve thought before about the Holloway Press, it’s a tricky business to bring out works of deliberately

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Posted in Letters, Literature, Non-fiction, Review

A slippery no-man, Owen Marshall

Enduring legacy – Charles Brasch, patron, poet and collector (ed) Donald Kerr University of Otago Press in association with University of Otago Library, $39.95, ISBN 1877276650 Several years ago at a reunion of those who had held Otago University’s Robert

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Posted in Biography, Literature, Non-fiction, Review
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