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Materialisations of a Woman Writer

Investigating Janet Frame’s Biographical Legend

Maria Wikse

Janet Frame’s literary career was inextricably woven into the fabric of the twentieth-century New Zealand literary scene. However, she also became New Zealand’s best-known international writer and her great literary influence in both fields has not been charted before now. This study also seeks to redress the excessive commitment in scholarship to maintaining, even celebrating, Frame’s reputation as a psychologically disturbed writer. This book surveys all aspects of Janet Frame’s biographical legend by considering her later literary and autobiographical works, Jane Campion’s film adaptation of the autobiographies, An Angel at my Table, as well as biographies and literary histories that both rely on and contribute to her well-known legend. In doing so, the author hopes to offer novel perspectives on Frame’s literary production, on Frame scholarship, on auto/biographical theories and on New Zealand literary history.
Contents: Biographical legend and its impact on Frame’s own work and on Frame scholarship – Nationalism and biography writing – New Zealand male traditions of authorship and women writers – Alternative, subversive ‘female’ literary traditions – Frame’s post-modern novels and their gender parody – Film adaptations and point of view – Male, female and erotic gazes – Whiteness in Pakeha identity politics – Links between biography writing, nationalism and gender constructions.