New CUP book offers insight into New Zealand’s greatest 20th-century philosopher

Canterbury University Press (CUP) is pleased to announce the publication of a new book by Associate Professor Mike Grimshaw, Arthur Prior – ‘A Young Progressive’: Letters to Ursula Bethell and to Hugh Teague 1936–1941.

Arthur Prior studied theology at Otago, but he lectured in philosophy at Canterbury University College. He invented ‘tense logic’ while he was at Canterbury during the years 1949–54 and is regarded as New Zealand’s greatest 20th-century philosopher.

Author Mike Grimshaw has previously published on unknown Prior notebooks and on Prior’s work on James Joyce. For this volume he took on the considerable challenge of transcribing, annotating and editing Prior’s letters to Ursula Bethell (who called him one of her ‘young progressives’) and to his cousin, Hugh Teague. Along with Mike, CUP would like to acknowledge and thank the staff at Macmillan Brown Library archives, where the letters to Ursula Bethell are held, for all their support and assistance.

Providing context to the annotated letters in this volume, Mike covers Prior’s journey from theology to philosophy, and his marriage with ‘the versatile Clare Hunter’ (an epithet earned through her debating society skills) with whom he travelled to Europe in 1937. Jack Copeland, Distinguished Professor and Head of Philosophy, provides the Introduction in which he concludes:

‘Arthur’s bohemian interlude in Europe and its aftermath in New Zealand … was a critical period in his development, the crucible in which the mature thinker was formed. His letters in this volume … chronicle a substantial part of that fascinating period’.

Copies are available from UBS on campus or from CUP’s online catalogue.