Cultural wealth and diaspora despair: Janet Frame’s In the Memorial Room

Research output: Contribution to ConferencePaper

Abstract

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. 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.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2014
Event15th Triennial Conference of the European Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (EACLALS): Un-Common Wealths: Riches and Realities - University of Innsbruck, Austria
Duration: 17 Apr 2014 → …
http://uncommonwealthseaclals2014.wordpress.com/

Conference

Conference15th Triennial Conference of the European Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (EACLALS): Un-Common Wealths: Riches and Realities
Period17/04/14 → …
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Keywords

  • Janet Frame
  • In the Memorial Room
  • Winn-Manson
  • Mansfield Fellowship
  • Menton
  • literary icon
  • glimpse

Cite this

Wilson, J. M. (2014). Cultural wealth and diaspora despair: Janet Frame’s In the Memorial Room. Paper presented at 15th Triennial Conference of the European Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (EACLALS): Un-Common Wealths: Riches and Realities, .