A Pacific sojourn: Anna Kavan and the New Zealand connection 1941-2

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This article examines Anna Kavan’s sojourn in New Zealand from February 1941 to November 1942 in the company of the pacifist playwright Ian Hamilton. Living in the most remote of the ex-British colonies reinforced Kavan’s ontological sense of homelessness and wish to disidentify from British society, yet the colony’s anglophone orientation offered familiarity within the strange and alien. The geography, landscapes and communities of its Pacific islands encouraged a reshaping of her imaginative engagement with otherness. Referring to Kavan’s recently published diary, ‘Five Months Further or What I Remember ab[ou]t New Zealand’, the essay argues that the New Zealand ‘experience’ encouraged her use of tropes of the Gothic and uncanny as she grappled with issues of distance, homelessness and disjunctive reality. The discussion focuses on the alternative/parallel world that New Zealand represents in stories published in I Am Lazarus (1945). It identifies experimental techniques associated with Gothic fiction by which Kavan registers the overlapping dualisms of war-torn London and idyllic rural New Zealand, and represents memory through framing devices and defamiliarizing rhetorical tropes as a distancing activity interrupting the present moment: dream sequences, irruptions into and splittings of reality, space and time reversals, doublings of self/other, disjunctive non sequiturs and ghostly mirror imaging.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWomen: A Cultural Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2017


  • New Zealand
  • Ian Hamilton
  • Pacific nostalgia
  • Anna Kavan
  • Charles Fuller
  • otherness
  • I Am Lazarus


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