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Anna Kavan

blogPost, 31/05/2007

I can only apologize for being so distracted by bath plugs the last time I mentioned Anna Kavan.It can't have been helpful so now I plan to dedicate myself to the cause of Anna and ensure you all know about her without any deviation,hesitation or repetition whatsoever

I love this photo of AK, The sleepwalker in the city...

blogPost, 16/06/2009

Anna Kavan returned to war time Britain and spent the rest of her troubled life there. She continued to publish books. I remember seeing a book by her in the 1970s and thinking she was Eastern European. She's that strain of English writing which is Eurocentric, 'surrealiste' is the term she used. I have now finished the book and it's lodged in my mind as something rare and wonderful - the sound of a voice.

Anna Kavan's New Zealand

blogPost, 30/09/2009

Come along and hear Jennifer Sturm, author of Anna Kavan’s New Zealand, talk about Anna 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.

Uncovering a real gem

newspaperArticle, 11/07/2009

Anna Kavan's New Zealand is a modest looking book which holds within it a kind of time-bomb. The explosiveness relates to Kavan's strangely powerful, even hypnotic talent. Kavan was a bottle blonde who washed up in New Zealand at that most dangerous of hours - 1942.

Anna Kavan's eternal journey....

blogPost, 19/11/2009

One of the most brilliant passages in Jennifer Sturm’s ‘Anna Kavan’s New Zealand’ concerns a visit to Hawke’s Bay. It is war time and the Kavanesque narrator - a woman not unidentitical to the author Kavan - is making her way out of New Zealand - one of the few places, ironically, she felt at peace. But she’s bursting to get away. Kavan was also a heroin addict, so probably New Zealand in 1942 wasn’t much chop.

Bottle blonde

magazineArticle, 04/07/2009

When the unconventional Anna Kavan came to 1940s New Zealand, she cast a cool eye on its inhabitants.

Guilty by Anna Kavan

webpage, 20/04/2007

Rhys Davies, one of Anna Kavan’s few close friends, wrote an introduction for Julia and the Bazooka (1970), a posthumous collection of her stories linked by their common allusion to her heroin habit.

Kavan’s place in NZ literary history (by Lawrence Jones)

blogPost, 31/05/2009

NNA KAVAN is probably known in New Zealand, if at all, primarily for her rather unflattering portrait of the country in “New Zealand: Answer to an Inquiry,” published in 1943 in Horizon. This book, the fruit of eight years of research by Jennifer Sturm, has attempted to change that situation, to bring about the recognition of “Kavan’s role in the literary history of New Zealand.”

Anna Kavan by Jennifer Sturm

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Share Facebook Twitter 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.

Jennifer Sturm | English | Faculty of Arts Staff | The University of Auckland

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Recent publications and contacts

Doris Lessing reviews new Anna Kavan bio

blogPost, 17/08/2006

A new biography of Anna Kavan, A Stranger on Earth, by that pest Jeremy Reed is reviewed by Doris Lessing here: Independent Online Edition > Reviews. I call Jeremy Reed a pest because he has managed to write either Fiction or Non-Fiction on nearly ever fun subject. Every time I turn around to see what's been written about Rimbaud or Artaud, there's that damn Jeremy Reed. And now he has this biography coming out on my favorite fiction writer, Anna Kavan. Underappreciated she is, but then again you might easily believe that this is the way she would have wanted it. Her work has often been compared to Doris Lessing, so her thoughts on the subject are relevant:

The Parson - Anna Kavan

blogPost, 05/11/2007

I picked up another of Anna Kavan's remarkable novels, The Parson, one of the last of her books to be published and this one post humously after the discovery of the manuscript in amongst Anna Kavan's papers at the McFarlin Library at the University of Tulsa.

Anna Kavan : Asylum Piece (1940)

blogPost, 06/07/2012

Anna Kavan (1901–68) was born Helen Woods, although she initially wrote as Helen Ferguson, her married name. Following the failure of her second marriage and one of many nervous breakdowns she changed her name to Anna Kavan, the main character of her novel Let Me Alone (1930). Asylum Piece is a collection of short stories which her publisher Peter Owen describes as 'mostly interlinked and largely autobiographical'. The cover shows Karl Theodor Bluth, the doctor who prescribed Kavan's heroin and co-wrote The Horse's Tail (1949) with her.

Anna Kavan and libraries

blogPost, 14/06/2009

I love the way with libraries you go in there, drift around and often seem to arrive, as if with a sense of predestination, before a book. This book, once you pick it up - there’s something almost magnetic happening here - now opens at a particular page. It is all random - or else it is the magic which accrues to the long time searcher and reader. This happened to me yesterday. I was browsing in the Auckland Public Library heritage room. I saw a book called Anna Kavan’s New Zealand. I picked it up, the book fell open and immediately I spied the word Napier.

Anna Kavan's New Zealand: a Pacific interlude in a turbulent life

book, 2009

New Zealanders live 'in temporary shacks, uneasily, as reluctant campers too far from home', wrote Anna Kavan in a London magazine in 1943. Her seemingly negative comments created a stir both in the UK and New Zealand and suggested Kavan felt nothing but antipathy for the country. However, in researching this prize-winning author of nineteen books, Dr Jennifer Sturm uncovered letters and unpublished short stories written during Kavan's sojourn in New Zealand that show a more complex, affectionate and significant response. Those stories are published here for the first time, along with a fascinating discussion of this 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.

Ice and Guilty by Anna Kavan

webpage, 24/09/2007

About a year ago, I attended the guest of honor talk at ICon, the Israeli science fiction and fantasy convention. The speaker was Neil Gaiman, and his topic was dreams. With typical low-key irreverence, Mr. Gaiman sidestepped his assigned subject. Nothing, he claimed, is quite so boring as actual dreams, in which the mind's processing centers, cut off from the senses and from higher reasoning, continue to churn and light up, producing certainties and causal leaps ("and suddenly it wasn't my high school gym teacher; it was my mother" is my best recollection of Mr. Gaiman's way of describing this effect) that have no relation to logic, narrative, or even metaphor and symbolism. Anna Kavan's Ice unfolds with a similar dream-like logic.

Fictionalising The Fact : An exploration of the place of Aotearoa / New Zealand in the post-war auobiographical fiction of Anna Kavan - Jennifer Sturm, 2007

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Anna Kavan by Jennifer Sturm

radioBroadcast, Saturday 4 July 2009

Auckland writer and researcher on two years in the life of experimental writer and artist Anna Kavan, in 1940s New Zealand.