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Literary contradictions, Alistair Fox

Striding Both Worlds: Witi Ihimaera and New Zealand’s Literary Traditions
Melissa Kennedy
ISBN 9789042033573

Katherine Mansfield and the (Post)colonial
Janet Wilson, Gerri Kimber and Delia da Sousa Correa (eds)
Edinburgh University Press
ISBN 9780748669097

In Striding Both Worlds, Melissa Kennedy has written one of the most substantial and insightful books published in the field of New Zealand literature in recent years. Apart from the light it sheds on the works of Witi Ihimaera, its importance resides in the challenge it mounts to the conventional, accepted reading of Māori literature in New Zealand. Whereas most critics during the past 30 years have approached this literature from a “culture-centred position” derived from postcolonial theory, Kennedy reads from a “text-centred position”, and places Ihimaera’s work in the broader context of Western cultural references, rather than construing it simply in terms of the politics of Māori nationalism, as almost all previous commentators have done. Her study also benefits from being informed by a wider range of critical and theoretical perspectives, including those of European scholars, than is usually the case.

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