Monday, October 10, 2011

Patrick Evans 'Gifted': Cultural Sabotage

In the opinion of the Janet Frame estate, the novel 'Gifted' by Christchurch English lit lecturer Patrick Evans, is an act of cultural sabotage, a deliberate attempt to distort the documented facts of Frame's life and work on the part of an academic in order to promote his own theories. It is not a 'historical novel' because it does not, as a historical novel generally does, adhere to all known historical facts and make reasonable guesses to fill in what has not been documented, to make the history come alive for the reader.

Fair enough for a novelist to write speculative and satirical fiction, as in fact CK Stead did, covering the same era, in All Visitors Ashore. But Stead changed the names. Evans uses "Janet Frame" and "Frank Sargeson" as characters, and the publicity and promotion around his novel has exploited Frame's name and reputation - always a photo of her, rarely of the 'novelist' Evans - and patsy reviews have suggested that there is biographical validity to the novel. There is not. Many crucial facts have been changed or distorted or omitted.

Trustee Denis Harold reviewed the book earlier this year:

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