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Conversations with iconic people

Episode27

Anna Kavan by Jennifer Sturm

“Kendrick Smithyman commented that as much as Frank Sargeson impacted on Greville Texidor’s writing, so did Anna Kavan”

Preview / 00:00:52

Full Episode / 00:56:10

In This Episode

Dr Jennifer Sturm and friend Debbie Knowles discuss the life and work of Anna Kavan, an ‘unconventional’ and enigmatic personality whose experiences in NZ over 18 months in the 1940’s were written about in Sturm’s insightful book ‘Anna Kavan’s New Zealand’.  Sturm’s research and her discovery of previously unpublished short stories by Anna Kavan has contributed significantly to renewed interest in the work of a woman whose writing has been compared to that of Virginia Woolf, Djuna Barnes and Jean Rhys.

Here you will find a fascinating discussion of Kavan, an experimental writer and talented artist, who struggled with bouts of depression and insecurity, as well as heroin addiction and a stream of unconventional love affairs. Kavan roamed the world trying to find a home, and although her stay in New Zealand was for less than two years, her stories reveal a country where she found temporary peace, a country she captures in a warm and astute gaze. This book provides an intriguing insight, not only into the life and writing of Anna Kavan but also New Zealand of the 1940s.

Jennifer Sturm has a PhD in English Literature from the University of Auckland.