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Maurice Duggan Biography

(1922–74), Immanuel's Land, Summer in the Gravel Pit

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Hilda Doolittle (H. D.) Biography to Dutch

New Zealand shortstory writer, born in Auckland, and educated at Auckland University. His first collection, Immanuel's Land (1956), contained work mostly written in Europe during 194953 and included the extended piece ‘The Voyage’. Summer in the Gravel Pit (1965) contained the fine story ‘Along the Rideout Road that Summer’. At his best Duggan showed mastery of a complex format of interrelated stories reflecting the fragility of human relationships, his focus usually being on finely sketched scenes of family life or memories of schooldays and youth. He further extended his fictional range in O'Leary's Orchard and Other Stories (1970), three longer stories all reworked from earlier works published in Landfall. In 1966 Duggan described the challenge of writing as being the need to find a subject which was ‘less a story than a prose celebration of a topography and a time that, in rediscovery and recreation moved me strongly enough to force me away from what had become a habit of rhetoric’; he creates a flexible and sophisticated fictional form which conveys an unsettling vision of life at the same time as it precludes a straightforward narrative reading. C. K. Stead edited his Collected Stories (1981), which included ‘The Magsman Miscellany’, and contributed a valuable Introduction.

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