Fleur Adcock

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Janet Wilson

This study of Adcock as a poet of dual New Zealand and British nationality writing within the mainstream with the eye of an outsider, emphasises the irony latent in her representations of a divided consciousness, and argues that her individualistic handling of gender issues, preoccupation with family genealogy, and interrogations of history and politics, reflect processes whereby personal ambivalence is transformed into art.

This study discusses Adcock as a writer who draws on her experiences of dislocation in order to position herself between cultures. Contrasting her work with that of the post-war British poetic mainstream with which she has been associated, it emphasises that the radically displaced feminised consciousness which negotiates the boundaries between self and other can be identified in Adcock’s poetry as metonymic of resolving national and cultural differences. Wilson argues that displaced voices such as hers from white settler colonies like New Zealand now belong to multicultural Britain. Her close readings of Adcock’s verse in terms of its ironic double vision focus on the blend of classical restraint, wit, and humour, in relation to her complex revaluation of the diasporic imaginary of the exile. Claiming that Adcock’s personal mythology, based on her divided nationality and gendered consciousness, recalls writers like Jane Austen and her fellow expatriate, Katherine Mansfield, Wilson argues that the best of her work transcends the immediate problems of her age.

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