Project: Lilburn's talks re-published

Douglas Lilburn: A Search for Tradition & A Search for a Language

Lilburn cover low res sm

In 2011, the Lilburn Residence Trust marked the 10th anniversary of Lilburn's death on 6 June 2001 with the publication of his 2 beautifully written and thought-provoking talks:

  • A Search for Tradition which he gave at the 1946 Cambridge Summer School
  • A Search for a Language which he presented in 1969 at the University of Otago.

These talks are his contribution to ‘the continuing grand debate about the predicament of the creative artist in New Zealand.’

The book, which includes paintings by Lilburn's friend and neighbour, Rita Angus, was designed by leading New Zealand book designer and Thorndon resident, Margaret Cochran, and was edited by trustee, Scilla Askew. Proceeds from the sale of the book are returned to the Lilburn Residence Trust.

Buying the book

You can buy copies online from:

Direct orders

You can also order direct from us at the Lilburn Residence Trust.

  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and include your name, postal address and number of books required.
  • New Zealand orders: $29 (including postage within New Zealand)
  • Overseas orders: NZ$25 (please email for additional postage costs)
  • Payment can be made directly to our bank account – please use 'book' as your reference:
    Kiwibank Account number: 38 9012 0839832 00

Reviews and comments

Bryan James, Otago Daily Times, June 2011:

In publishing these essays, together with introductions by J.M. Thomson and an afterword by Jack Body, the Lilburn Residence Trust has produced a most handsome and excellent little book. It was refreshing, for this reader at least, to re-read the essays and to realise that many of the arguments Lilburn advanced remain both valid and challenging. The book is beautifully illustrated with watercolours and drawings by Rita Angus, and other appropriate pictures.

Lyell Cresswell, The Listener, September 2011:

The Lilburn Residence Trust must be congratulated for producing this splendid edition of these important lectures to mark the 10th anniversary of Lilburn's death. As well as various photographs, biographical information, perceptive introductions by JM Thomson and an astute afterword by Jack Body, the book contains an apposite parallel 'text' of reproductions of paintings and drawings by Rita Angus and pages from Lilbum's scores.

Paul Little, North and South, August 2011:

Lilburn's warm humanism is apparent – 'the proper concern of art is humanity' is his credo. The voice here is that of the artist, with more questions than answers. But what interesting questions they are.

Special praise is due to the book's elegant design. A slight volume, it achieves great impact without the Technicolour hysteria of many contemporary books …

Allan Thomas:

These are words, like Lilburn’s music itself, measured, carefully poised, challenging.

Hamish Keith:

From across a lifetime, Douglas Lilburn speaks that unpalatable but illuminating truth that, if we are to be comfortable in our cultural skins, we must grow them for ourselves and nobody other than us can truly celebrate in them.

Bill Manhire:

Above all, he [Lilburn] shows us not only how to stand upright, but also how to dance around a little.

This book, published by the Lilburn Residence Trust in association with Victoria University Press, was made possible by generous funding from the Lilburn Trust and the Stout Trust.

ISBN: 978-0-473-18379-0
112pp; vi; 106p