Reprint: "Tussock Land"

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Under the not very attractive title of "Tussock Land: a romance of New Zealand and the Commonwealth" (T. Fisher Unwin), Mr. Arthur H. Adams tells a story of some note. His hero is one King Southern, a youth with artistic feelings and ambitions, with a love for beautiful things, and with a desire to do beautiful things, with an ambition that is strong enough to urge him to scorn delights and live laborious days -- with, in short, all the qualifications of a genius, except the power of expressing genius. King Southern has also an infinite capacity of loving. The only person he does not love is his father, who is dimly represented as an austere person with direct and narrow views. King Southern loves his mother, but his love is not so strong as to prevent the possibility of his neglecting her for years on end. He loves every beautiful girl he knows in New Zeaiand. Slenderly equipped in point of education, he leaves New Zealand en route for Paris, via Sydney. He is first to educate Sydney -- a mission popular, we are led to believe, in New Zealand. He is to acquire all knowledge attainable in Sydney, leaving in return some serviceable information, and then he is to go on to the old country and electrify artists there, and to do great work himself. The only part of this journey which he effects is the visit to Sydney. Here he works like a man and falls as an artist. He finds after long trial that the pith of the artist is not in him; that he can daub a little and play the dilettante a little, but that not to him belongs the power of making the canvas speak poetry. The daily papers of Sydney, it appears, wisely encourage him to believe that he is a failure, and this verdict, demonstrably correct, is at last accepted by him. Accordingly he goes back to New Zealand and becomes a successful lawyer in the bush. The book is agreeably and cleverly written. It is in some places intensely human, not merely local. It presents a vivid sketch of a not uncommon character -- the youth who starts out to conquer tho world, and who returns home convinced of his own weakness.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 June 1904

[Thanks to the National Library of Australia's newspaper digitisation project for this piece.]

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on March 7, 2012 6:36 AM.

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