The novelist's pair of tongs : an investigation into the literary significance of John A. Lee's novels : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of M.A. in English Literature at Massey University

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With regard to Chapter 1: to find out how Children of the Poor, The Hunted and Civilian Into Soldier were originally received I have perused over 100 contemporary comments in newspapers, magazines and letters of overseas and New Zealand origin. I was aided in this search by Mr. Lee who made his files available to me at "Vital Books Ltd.," Auckland. The files were in no apparent order apart from a characteristic antithetical juxtapositioning of some comments; nor were the files complete; some documents were sealed. There were enough items of interest, nevertheless, to produce a firm outline of the history of the reception of the novels. Additional reviews were obtained from various libraries. To find out how subsequent critics have judged the novels I have studied approximately 25 comments by New Zealand scholars and writers in various publications from the forties to the sixties, and in letters. Post-contemporary comment has been arranged as far as it was possible in chronological order. There has been no intentional slanting in the selection and arrangement of comments. To describe the literary source of Lee's acknowledged power I subjected his first three published novels to a close reading. My observations on structure are confined mainly to Ch. IV. Style is detailed in Ch. V. It is not unusual for original feeling to disappear after analysis. Eliot noticed this happening, in Frontiers of Criticism, in which essay he refers to "the lemon squeezer school". Lee, however, presents the literary object in such a way that feeling tends to follow thought so that on thinking feeling returns. The alternation is endless and urgent. Current readership statements have been detailed in the appendix. In most instances book titles throughout the thesis have been abbreviated to initial letters thus: COP (Children of the Poor), TH (The Hunted), CIS (Civilian Into Soldier), LWPS (The Lee Way to Public Speaking). The photos of the frontispiece are from the N. Z. Listener 17 Nov. 1967. My thanks to Professor R. G. Frean who asked me to consider a thesis on John A. Lee, and who with Dr Broughton concluded that "such a study would have intrinsic merit." I am also pleased to acknowledge their advice and direction together with that of Mr O'Gorman. I thank also Miss Rodger who helped to find obscure references. Much appreciated, too, has been the goodwill and co-operation of all correspondents. [From Preface]
Lee, John A 1891-1982, Criticism Interpretation