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Frank Sargeson Biography

(1903–82), Conversations with My Uncle and Other Sketches, A Man and His Wife, I for One

zealand critical stories collected

New Zealand short-story writer and novelist, born in Hamilton, educated at the University of New Zealand, Auckland. Experience of the 1930s Depression shaped his early work which displayed a mastery of a highly individual monologue style, and an accurate rendering of laconic New Zealand expression in the face of adversity. These early stories were collected in Conversations with My Uncle and Other Sketches (1936) and A Man and His Wife (1940). The novel I for One (1952) marked a new departure in format and range while the picaresque Memoirs of a Peon (1965) allowed even greater freedom of treatment in its combination of satire and social comment. Joy of the Worm (1969) and Man of England Now (1972, three novellas) explored in Sargeson's adroit tragi-comic manner the increasingly complex and contradictory world of twentieth-century England/New Zealand relations. A rich introduction to Sargeson's concerns and character is provided by the autobiographical trilogy Once Is Enough (1972), More than Enough (1975), and Never Enough (1978), published in one volume as Sargeson in 1981; with their irreverent vitality the novels testify to Sargeson's insatiable fascination with the intricacies of human relationships in New Zealand provincial life. Other novels include Sunset Village (1976) and En Route (1979). The Collected Stories of Frank Sargeson (1964) was expanded and republished as The Stories of Frank Sargeson (1973) and reissued in 1982 with an additional story. Sargeson's essays Conversations in a Train and other Critical Writing, edited by Kevin Cunningham, were collected in 1983. His varied and sustained output has established Sargeson as an influential figure in post-war New Zealand fiction. Critical essays appeared in The Puritan and the Waif (1954; edited by Helen Shaw). A critical study by H. Winston Rhodes was published in 1969; more recent studies include R. A. Copland's Frank Sargeson (1976) and Frank Sargeson in His Time (1976) by D. McEldowney.

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