The story of the generation of New Zealand writers who came of age in the 1930s and who deliberately and decisively changed the course of literature is told in this book, shedding important new light on the key participants, including Allen Curnow, Denis Glover, and Robin Hyde. The movement is traced through small circulation magazines and small press publications from 1932 to 1941. The repudiations and loyalties by which the movement defined itself are explored, including its opposition to the literary establishment and to late Georgian verse, its naming of its precursors and allies from the 1920s, and its choice of overseas models such as the British Moderns and the new American short-story writers for the creation of a new literature. Also covered is the anti-myth the Phoenix and Caxton writers created to oppose the cultural myths supported by the literary establishment and the writers' responses to the world-wide social upheavals of the period -- the Depression, the international crises of 1935 to 1939, and World War II.
Lawrence Jones is a leading critic and historian of New Zealand literature and the author of Barbed Wire and Mirrors: Essays on New Zealand Prose and From the Mainland: An Anthology of South Island Writing. He is an emeritus professor of English at Otago University.