Janet Frame.

30 Jul

On Mother’s Day I bought mine a collection of short stories by Janet Frame.

I’ve always fantasised about living in a house filled with hardback collections of my favourite local short stories, and I know my mum loves short stories too. I thought Janet Frame would be the perfect complement to the Katherine Mansfield I bought her last year.

Except that it turned out I’d already bought her that exact Janet Frame collection at Christmas.

On the downside, I learned that I am a terrible present-giver. But on upside, I got to keep the book, and I fell in love with New Zealand’s most prominent author and suspected nutter.

Frame was diagnosed and treated for an assortment of mental illnesses in her lifetime. We’re talking about the late 1940’s and 1950’s, a time when the field of psychiatry was a strange and dangerous place. While at Seacliff Lunatic Asylum (its real name), her doctors determined that she was suffering from schizophrenia. They subjected her to a programme of electroconvulsive therapy, but as she showed no signs of improvement, she was eventually scheduled for a lobotomy.

This was about the time of the absolutely stunning The Lagoon and Other Stories, which upon its release was promptly awarded the Hubert Church Memorial Award. As a result, her surgeon immediately cancelled the operation, explaining to Frame that they wanted to keep her just as she was. For the rest of her career she credited her writing with saving her life.

Here, Janet Frame reads the heart-pummelling poem Friends Far Away Die.

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One Response to “Janet Frame.”

  1. Aimee July 30, 2010 at 5:07 pm #

    I have heard a theory that most creative people ae just high functioning schitzophrenics.

    http://www.dosenation.com/listing.php?id=7511

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