Continuum: the mixture's moment : presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in English at Massey University

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Massey University
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This thesis grew out of a simple observation. This was that in terms of sheer numbers, allusions to the bodily, the sexual and scatological in Continuum outweighed all other references. What is the significance of so much 'body language'? Is a simple 'listing' enough to show anything of interest? Certainly the specific body allusions have several characteristics in common. They often use strong, short and sometimes 'shocking' words; they use the idea of taboo to seek out new meanings; they are often alliterative or punning (and hence literary and conscious); they may often involve pain or release and spillage. This is their emotional or immediate function. We might infer that Curnow wishes to be 'all things to all men,' to have the sort of 'inclusiveness' approved of by a critic like Eric Partridge when he discusses the imagery of Shakespeare's plays. Time after time, critics have insisted on Curnow's willingness to face the 'reality of experience' or have commented that he seizes 'the reality prior to the poem.
Continuum, Criticism and interpretation, Curnow, Allen, 1911-2001