Thursday, April 14, 2011

Critics of Sarah Abrahamson #3

Hilary Mantel
Man Booker Prizewinning author of Wolf Hall


In 2009 Hilary Mantel had this to say in her Introduction to the Virago Modern Classics edition of Faces in the Water:

'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 an abnormality. An arid reductionism still haunts her. In 2007 a paper in the New Zealand Medical Journal suggested that she had an autism spectrum disorder. It is time to subdue the urge to pathologise, and see Frame as the highly conscious artist she was.

Frame's inner geography is complex, her psyche contains elaborate structures. She had the artist's ability to make strange associations and imaginative leaps; along with this ability goes, not infrequently, a certain social awkwardness, a deep reserve and a tendency to withdraw from small talk. Social situations are difficult because an artist like Frame sees and hears so much more than the average person; the subtext of every human negotiation is written in large type and cast in a brilliant light.'

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