Monday, September 28, 2009

US edition of selected stories

"Entering the human heart? In the magnificent stories of Janet Frame, we are never out of it."

~ New Zealand Books (Spring 2009)

US Publication Date: December 1, 2009
Publisher: Counterpoint
Format: Hardcover, 396pp

ISBN-13: 9781582435152
ISBN: 1582435154

The most comprehensive selection of Janet Frame's short stories ever published, this exceptional collection has been chosen from the four different volumes released during her lifetime, and includes five formerly uncollected stories.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Frame footage online

NZ ONscreen Biography of Janet Frame:

Janet Frame is famed for creating unique fictional worlds, yet her biography is entwined in her works' critical and public reception. Her writing was influenced by her early life: a working class childhood during the Depression, several family tragedies, and a misdiagnosis of schizophrenia in her early twenties, led to a special understanding for the poor and marginalised.

Another of Frame's key themes is that of the writer or artist struggling to survive in the face of a conformist society; a topic pointedly evidenced through her own experience: Frame narrowly escaped a lobotomy only because she won a major literary prize.

Yet David Gate's 2009 New York Times' review of Towards Another Summer notes, that Frame's "sanity became, and continues to be, the subject of tedious and condescending debate - as does the degree to which her fiction was autobiographical. Since few readers of Sylvia Plath's novel The Bell Jar (published in the same year Frame wrote Towards Another Summer) worry any more over the similarity of Esther Greenwood to her creator, why worry over [Summer protagonist] Grace Cleave?"

Frame herself warned her readers of the danger of treating her fictional statements as autobiography and long maintained her privacy. This reticence, along with the vivid interiority of her writing, might seem to make Frame a challenging subject for adaptation to screen, but her work and the drama of her life has appealed to filmmakers.

Three New Zealanders: Janet Frame (1975) is a documentary based around a lively interview with Frame and contains dramatised excerpts from Frame's fiction.The first significant adaptation of Frame's work was A State of Siege (1978).

Vincent Ward's first short film was made when he was fresh out of Ilam art school. Adapted from a Frame novel, it's the story of a retired art teacher dealing with loss and loneliness, told over one stormy, terrifying night.Produced by Tim White, the film announced Ward as an emerging talent. "This, without all doubt, is the most sensitive and intelligent film that has ever been made in New Zealand" (Evening Post, 1978).

An Angel at My Table (1990) saw Jane Campion adapt the three volumes of Frame's bestselling autobiography (To the Is-Land, An Angel at My Table and The Envoy from Mirror City). Produced by Bridget Ikin and starring Kerry Fox, the poetic interpretation of Frame's memoir of her early life was initially made for television, to be screened in three parts, but attracted such strong reviews that it was released theatrically as a 158min film.

The film cemented Campion's international reputation (it is the only New Zealand film to be selected for the Criterion Collection) and won numerous awards (including the International Critics' Prize at Toronto Film Festival and the Grand Special Jury Price at Venice).

Campion's iconic shot of the young Frame walking down a deserted southern road visually captures the charge of Frame's writing: "Electricity, the peril the wind sings to in the wires on a gray day". Following on from the publication of Frame's prizewinning autobiography (received with unanimous acclaim in New Zealand and internationally) the film's success saw Frame's readership further swell.

Wrestling with the Angel (2004) by Ninox Films is a 70 minute documentary based on the celebrated biography by Michael King of the same title. Directed by Peter Bell it explores Frame's private life and writing through the perspective of her friends and associates. King's untimely death in March 2004 meant that the interview he gave for this film was his last. He provides an informative and entertaining overview of her life.

Screen adaptations of Frame's work, particularly An Angel at My Table, have helped enshrine its reputation as a taonga of New Zealand arts and have inspired new generations to engage with "the mirror city" of Frame's imagination.

Monday, September 21, 2009

French Translations of Janet Frame

OWLS DO CRY (1957)

La Chambre Close Alinea (1986)
Les Hiboux Pleurent Vraiment Éditions Joёlle Losfeld (1994)
Les Hiboux Pleurent Vraiment Payot & Rivages (2002)

translated by Catherine Vieilledent


Visage Noyés Éditions du Seuil (1964)
Visage Noyés Éditions Joёlle Losfeld (1996)
Visage Noyés Payot & Rivages (2004)

translated by Solange Lecomte


Le Jardin Aveugle Éditions Joёlle Losfeld (1998)
Le Jardin Aveugle Payot & Rivages (2004)

translated by Dominique Mainard


La Fille-Bison Éditions Joёlle Losfeld (2002)

translated by Dominique Mainard

TO THE IS-LAND (Autobiography Volume 1) (1982)

Ma Terre Mon Île Les Belles Lettres (1992)
Ma Terre Mon Île Éditions Joёlle Losfeld (2000)

translated by Anne Damour


(Autobiography Volume 2) (1984)

Parmi les Buissons de Matagouri Hommes & Groupes Éditeurs (1986)
Un Été à Willowglen (Un Ange à Ma Table vol 2) Éditions Joёlle Losfeld (1997)

translated by Françoise Robert


(Autobiography Volume 3) (1988)

Le Messager (Un Ange à Ma Table vol 3) Éditions Joёlle Losfeld (1996)

translated by Dominique Mainard


Poussière et Lumière du Jour Éditions Joёlle Losfeld (1997)

translated by Dominique Mainard


Le Lagon et Autre Nouvelles Des Femmes - Antoinette Fouque (2006)

translated by Jean Anderson and Nadine Ribault

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Janet Frame Memorial Lecture

Janet Frame Memorial Lecture
by William Taylor

Thursday 22 october 2009
6.00 pm

Te Papa (Museum of New Zealand)

55 Cable St, Wellington

All Welcome

Admission Free

This lecture aims to deliver an overview of the ‘state of the nation’ for literature and writing in New Zealand, raising the profile of our authors and leading to a greater understanding of what it means to be a writer in New Zealand.

One of New Zealand’s foremost novelists for young people, multi-award winning William Taylor has published more than thirty novels.

Owen Marshall gave the inaugural lecture in 2007, followed by Greg O’Brien last year.

The lecture is jointly sponsored by the New Zealand Society of Authors (PEN NZ Inc) and Random House New Zealand, and takes place as part of New Zealand Book Month.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Mantel on Man Booker shortlist

Delighted to see that Hilary Mantel's novel Wolf Hall, which has attracted much praise from the critics, has been shortlisted for the 2009 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

Here at the Janet Frame estate we have a soft spot for Hilary Mantel, who has written a superb introduction to the 2009 Virago paperback edition of Janet Frame's classic bestselling novel FACES IN THE WATER.

Mantel's introduction to Faces in the Water is one of the most perceptive pieces of writing about Janet Frame's work that I have ever read. The essay is incisive, well-researched, and beautifully, at times lyrically, written.

And of course Mantel can see right through the attempts to pathologise Frame the author, in her lifetime and beyond. Here's one of my favourite passages from the introduction:

Despite the other things she could do, distinctive and remarkable things, Janet Frame remains subject to categorisation. She was put into the mad category, saved at the last moment for the artist category, and is sometimes put back into the mad category by people keen on classifications and unable to explain her genius except by defining it as abnormality. An arid reductionism still haunts her. In 2007 a paper in the New Zealand Medical Journal suggested that she had an autistic spectrum disorder. It is time to subdue the urge to pathologise, and see Frame as the highly conscious artist that she was.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Satirical poem re-surfaces

A newly published biography of New Zealand's former Prime Minister Helen Clark includes the text of a satirical poem Janet Frame wrote in the mid-1980s. The poem is called "June 1985" and was published in the New Zealand Listener in July of that year.

The poem sums up well the mood and circumstances of the mid-80s, and journalist Denis Welch uses it to introduce a chapter on the choices facing the "left wing" within NZ's Labour Party of that time, which had been co-opted by the right wing agenda later known as "Rogernomics". Welch notes that Frame laments "the way the country was changing".

Frame held strong opinions on political and social issues and many of her works contain incisive satirical barbs. This social critique aspect to Janet Frame's life and work has sometimes been obscured by the mythologising of Janet Frame. Those who prefer the narrow fictionalised movie version of her life find it hard to allow her the agency and independence she in fact displayed from ealiest childhood, and which landed her in no end of trouble.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Birthday Tribute

A lovely gesture from the staff of the University of Otago's Hocken Collections, on Janet Frame's 85th birthday. The springtime bloom of the flowering currant tree was indeed one of Janet's favourite flowers.

Janet Frame had a long association with Dunedin's Hocken Library. She made the first of several significant and generous deposits of her papers to that archive nearly 45 years ago (in 1965).

Janet Frame's personal and literary papers are not yet available for public perusal because Frame requested there be a period of at least 15 years of respectful privacy to follow her death. In the meantime her papers are being catalogued and her executors are carrying out the programme of posthumous publication that Frame had always envisaged would take place. She always insisted and hoped that attention should be paid to her work rather than to her life, and her literary guardians are bruised but not broken in their battles to carry out her wishes.

For various reasons, she did not publish all the work she wrote. In some cases, the delay was to preserve her own privacy or the privacy of others.

Other important birthdays are commemorated by the Hocken staff. A floral tribute is also made in honour of the May birthday of major benefactor Charles Brasch. His favourite flower was the anemone, and I understand that it's quite a chore to track down that flower at that time of year!

(Photos courtesy of Hocken Librarian, Sharon Dell)