Whole Men

Whole Men

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Kai Jensen takes a provocative look at masculinity in New Zealand literature. He argues that New Zealand writing around the Second World War was shaped by excitement about masculinity as a way of challenging society. Inspired partly by Marxism, writers such as A.R.D. Fairburn, Denis Glover, John Mulgan and Frank Sargeson linked national identity to the ordinary working man or soldier, and attempted to merge artistic activity and manliness in a new ideal, the whole man. This masculine excitement forged a literary and intellectual culture which was powerful for thirty years, and which discouraged women writers. Jensen suggests that the aftermath of masculinism still influences the way New Zealand intellectuals see themselves, and that the masculine tradition survives in the writing of Owen Marshall, Sam Hunt, Maurice Shadbolt and even Maurice Gee. At the same time he argues that masculinism underwent a process of change after its high point in the 1940s: Frank Sargeson's closeted homosexuality posed a complex problem for the masculine tradition and its historians, and James K. Baxter's symbolic, Jungian poetry was also hard to reconcile with the idea that men's writing must be based on robust experience. Yet Baxter prepared the masculine tradition for the 1960s and 1970s by renovating the whole man as bohemian lover. Whole Men is not just about one literary movement, but about how literary culture works, and how New Zealand intellectuals construct their identities.The Masculine Tradition in New Zealand Literature Kai Jensen. what angle, to touch one thing against another for the transfer of energy. ... His poetry approaches as nearly as possible the masculine condition of manual work. In all of this Hex ... If he played a part it was usually to go away and leave things as they were.

Title:Whole Men
Author:Kai Jensen
Publisher:Auckland University Press - 1996


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