To what extent and in what ways is the literary imagination conditioned by its social contexts? This book responds to that expansive question by formulating it in terms of a more particular one: how did the Depression of the 1930s influence the writing of prose fiction in Australia and New Zealand? What follows, then, is a bifocal study in which attention moves from the close-up examination of various phenomena – literary, economic, ideological – to a conspectus of larger structures and relations, back once more to detailed matters, then again towards a holistic view, and so on.... It was a social cataclysm, certainly; did it leave only superficial marks on literature, or did it cause profound configurative changes? (From the Introduction).