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The Pursuit of Wholeness in Maurice Gee's Fiction for Children

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posted on 2023-03-14, 23:25 authored by Van Rij, Vivien Jean

Towards the end of Maurice Gee's Prowlers Noel Papps comments: "A morning on my sundeck passes like the turning of a wheel. Time present and time past, now and then, bring their motions into agreement and I know the joys of congruency " (p. 217).[2] Here Noel describes a fulfilment which is circular and in which antitheses are brought together in harmony. A scientist, he has not always felt such joy. For much of his life he has been concerned with breaking things down and analysing them according to dry chemical formulae. Yet this process has been necessary for understanding, and in effect for creating the whole novel he narrates. Noel Papps seems to reflect Gee who is also concerned with division and forming a whole rounded book. This thesis examines Gee's concept of parts and their possible congruency. The Introduction considers Gee's novels for adults, especially those in which protagonists, speaking for Gee, describe the process involved in creating a whole work, whether literary, non-fictional or artistic. Their descriptions contextualise my exploration of Gee's pursuit of wholeness in his fiction for children. I turn first to the O trilogy in which the Motherstone is an explicit image of balance. Thereafter the focus is on Gee's five historical novels, in which the presence of lived experiences, real history, allusions to creative works, characters' illusions, and the universal are considered at length. Drawing on interviews, photographs, archival material, and non-fictional, historical, and literary texts, I attempt to establish the authenticity of Gee's reproduction of these dimensions and, where there are discrepancies, their effects. The narrative technique involved in bringing diverse dimensions together is also examined. Finally I consider patterning across Gee's five historical novels as a representation of a whole work.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of English, Film, Theatre and Media Studies


Walls, Kathryn; Ricketts, Harry