Forthcoming (November 2011) is a study of Janet Frame in the Northcote House Publishers series WRITERS AND THEIR WORK.
"Writers and their Work, launched in 1994 in association with the British Council, won immediate acclaim for its publication of brief but rigorous critical examinations of the works of distinguished writers and schools of writing. The series embraces the best of modern literary theory and criticism, and features studies of many popular late-twentieth-century writers, as well as the canonical figures of literature and important literary genres." ~ Northcote House Publishers.
Apparently the Janet Frame volume written by French Frame scholar Claire Bazin is "a close rereading" of Frame's fiction "from an autobiographical perspective".
I don't assume that the use of the word "autobiographical" rather than "biographical" means that Frame's work will be interpreted from the perspective of Bazin's own autobiography, although given the level of projection onto Frame by certain academics of their own obsessions and neuroses, that wouldn't be too surprising! It certainly happens! No, this probably means that we can expect to engage in a search through Frame's fiction for evidence of certain events and themes of her own life, or should I say, from beliefs about her life.
Of course "close rereadings" can in themselves be "closely reread" and I expect this textbook will provide a feast for analysis in itself by other scholars not so enamoured of catching fragments of the author's life in the amber of their art. Bazin's recent title Janet Frame: The Lagoon and other Stories: Naissance d'une Oeuvre cowritten with younger Parisian scholar Alice Braun provided me with just about the most outrageous example of misrepresentation of one Janet Frame sentence that I have ever seen, at least since CK Stead's distortions of Frame's own words last year in the first volume of his memoir, for example by his butchering of a quote from a Janet Frame letter to make her seem to say the opposite of what she actually intended, if one reads the whole letter in context.
In both cases, a quote from Janet Frame has been selectively edited - by omitting an important part of it - to make it seem to say something that contradicts what Frame actually said. Here's the sentence I refer to, as Bazin/Braun reproduce it in their 2010 textbook (page 19):
"I tried to kill myself, and was sent to hospital for six weeks [...] I sat on my bed with my newly acquired second hand typewriter, an aged Barlock whose keys performed a roundabout dance before they reached the paper, and typed slowly, with one finger, because I had never used a typewriter before, most of my Lagoon stories.'
The sentence this excerpt is drawn from appears in Frame's early autobiographical essay 'Beginnings'. As it appears above, the quotation seems to act as evidence for the persistent myth - especially rampant currently in France - that Frame wrote her first book of stories while interned in a mental hospital. What else could it be saying? In English, the 'bed' could only be in the 'hospital'. Here's proof!!
But what follows is the actual sentence as Frame wrote it (with the part omitted by Bazin & Braun in bold):
"I tried to kill myself, and was sent to hospital for six weeks and when I came out I found a living-in job as a housemaid in a boarding house for old men and old ladies, and in the evenings, in my small room which was still used as the linen cupboard though it now held my bed and a chest of drawers squeezed in somehow beneath the shelves piled with linen, I sat on my bed with my newly acquired second hand typewriter, an aged Barlock whose keys performed a roundabout dance before they reached the paper, and typed slowly, with one finger, because I had never used a typewriter before, most of my Lagoon stories."
Close rereading... a valuable tool for analysing academic propaganda as well as literature! And a great way to uncover the processes of mythmaking.