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Wilson, Janet M
Languages: English
Types: Unknown
Subjects: PR9639.3
Janet Frame came into uneasy collision with the ghost of Katherine Mansfield, the ‘godmother of New Zealand literature’, when she was awarded the Winn Manson Menton Fellowship in 1974. This, New Zealand’s only overseas literary fellowship, took her to Menton and the ‘Memorial Room’ of Villa Isola Bella in Menton, in comemmoration of Mansfield’s own stay there in 1920 and 1921. \ud \ud In In the Memorial Room, the novel written during this time and published posthumously, the writer in the public space of diaspora is undermined by competing demands and expectations. Frame’s protagonist is alienated, at odds with the local expatriate community, and disoriented, descending into a crisis of despair and creative impasse. This paper examines the novel’s narrative strategies of analysis, denial (of self and others) and repositioning, as the author figure suffers sensory deprivation (being blind, then deaf), writing becomes a burden, and language a hazard. The question of posthumous fame and the ‘anxiety of influence’, it suggests, are possible, but not unique, explanations for this complex response to the cultural wealth that Mansfield represents and which the Fellowship celebrated.
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