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Stead, C(hristian) K(arlson)

zealand literature opposition literary

(NZ, 1932– )

This Emeritus Professor of English from the University of Auckland has been a controversial figure in New Zealand literature since the 1950s. Initially known as an academic and then as a poet, his first novel, Smith's Dream (1971), grew out of his own opposition to New Zealand's participation in the Vietnam War, and imagines a guerrilla resistance movement attacking a New Zealand fascist dictatorship. It was filmed as ‘Sleeping Dogs’. All Visitors Ashore (1984) evokes New Zealand literary life in the 1950s, and is strongly autobiographical. The Singing Whakapapa (1994, fiction section winner of the New Zealand Book Awards) tells the story of a nineteenth-century Maori leader opposing the Anglican Church's appropriation of Maori land. Talking About O'Dwyer (1999) had reviewers rating Stead among the best contemporary novelists. In recent years his opposition to feminism and multi-culturalism in literature (on the grounds that they are swamping the New Zealand literary scene with politically correct writing which is inferior literature) has involved him in a fair amount of controversy.

Maurice Shadbolt, Patrick White, Italo Calvino, Jonathan Coe  AE

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