On indigenous ‘lasting’, a settler international classic: Norman P. Franke, ‘Romantic spectres in the Waikato caves: William Satchell’s The Greenstone Door as a chronotopical intertext and a critique and affirmation of bourgeois modernity’, Journal of New Zealand & Pacific Studies, 3, 1, 2015, pp. 39-57

24May15

Abstract: Set in New Zealand during the Land Wars, William Satchell’s Bildungsroman, The Greenstone Door is widely considered to be one of the most seminal novels in New Zealand literary history. The text contrasts the rural topography and the social life of the Waikato with the urban landscapes and mentalities of Auckland and relates the development of its main protagonist, Cedric Tregarthen, to these (symbolic) spaces. This article examines the forms and scope of Satchell’s use of German literary discourses to narrate and comment on the New Zealand Land Wars, and on the ascent of bourgeois modernity and colonial mentalities in New Zealand. Authors and works considered in this comparative context include Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister, Friedrich Schiller’s ‘Das Lied von der Glocke’, Novalis’s Heinrich von Ofterdingen and Karl May’s Winnetou. Drawing on theories developed by Sigmund Freud, Yuri M. Lotman and Mikhail Bakhtin, this article focuses in particular on The Greenstone Door’s key ‘chronotopes’. In this context, special emphasis is paid to the cave scene in which the novel’s protagonists anticipate the tragic future of traditional Maori culture. My reading suggests that the cave scene in The Greenstone Door can be understood as an adaptation and inversion of the cave scene in Novalis’s early Romantic novel Heinrich von Ofterdingen, thus necessitating an extension of Bakhtin’s and Lotman’s theoretical framework, which may be termed ‘chronotopical intertextuality’. The article concludes with a critical assessment of Satchell’s and Novalis’s ‘prophetic’ passages about the political and cultural future of German and New Zealand culture.



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