Anna Kavan and the New Zealand connection

Research output: Contribution to ConferencePaper


This paper examines Anna Kavan’s sojourn in New Zealand from 1941-42 in the company of the pacifist playwright, Ian Hamilton. It discusses the effects of living in a remote provincial island on her thinking, emotions and work, as evinced in stories such as ‘Ice Storm’ and the essay ‘New Zealand: An Answer to an Enquiry’, published in Horizon (1943), in which she describes the country as ‘It’s null, it’s dull, it’s tepid, it’s mediocre; the downunder of the spirit’ (156). The paper refers to the recently published diary, ‘Five Months Further or What I Remember Ab[ou]t New Zealand’, to argue that living in New Zealand introduced a new creative dimension to Kavan’s work as she grappled with issues of distance, homelessness and disjunctive reality in what was, she realised later, a safe haven during the war years. The geographies, landscapes and small community of these pacific rim islands, the furthest south before Antarctica, gave a depth charge to her imaginative framework. The discussion will focus on the alternative/parallel world that New Zealand came to represent as imaged, for example, in the dystopian stories of I am Lazarus and the apocalyptic vision of her last novel, Ice. i Published in Anna Kavan’s New Zealand: A Pacific Interlude in a Turbulent Life, ed. Jennifer Sturm (Auckland: Random House/Vintage, 2009)
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sep 2014
EventAnna Kavan: Historical Contexts, Influences and Legacy of her Fiction - Institute of English Studies, University of London
Duration: 11 Sep 2014 → …


OtherAnna Kavan: Historical Contexts, Influences and Legacy of her Fiction
Period11/09/14 → …
Internet address


  • Anna Kavan
  • New Zealand
  • Ian Hamilton
  • I am Lazarus
  • deixis


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