Reference : Janet Frame's Bestiary
Scientific congresses and symposiums : Unpublished conference/Abstract
Arts & humanities : Literature
Janet Frame's Bestiary
Delrez, Marc mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > Département des langues et littératures modernes > Littérature anglaise moderne et littérature américaine >]
Postcolonial Animals - Symposium
4-5 juillet 2008
Menzies Centre for Australian Studies, King's College
[en] Janet Frame ; New Zealand literature ; Towards Another Summer
[en] Frame’s concern with animals is multifaceted and represents, in some of its manifestations, one of the more challenging aspects of her work. Indeed her valorisation of animal life seems inseparable from her preoccupation with death and from her belief in the need for human beings to embark on a course in ‘death education’. Such a thematic collocation may be unexpected but it is not unique to Frame – witness the comment of Elizabeth Costello, a fictional novelist and animal rights activist in J. M. Coetzee’s eponymous publication, to the effect that ‘if we are capable of thinking our own death, why on earth should we not be capable of thinking our way into the life of a bat?’ The reverse, then, may also be true, and in Frame’s work it is posited that the imaginative challenge represented by animals is relevant, however laterally, to an illumination of the experience of death. In other words Frame’s altruistic receptiveness to alternative sensations of being is not subordinated primarily, as in Coetzee, to a militant struggle against the abuse of animals by human beings, to be fought in the real world; instead, the New Zealand writer privileges aesthetic considerations, as the lives of animals are placed in her work under the magnifying glass of the artist’s attention, with the result that the ability to disentangle deceptive taxonomies emerges as another hallmark of genuine creativity as she sees it. This is why Frame quotes the words of André Malraux: ‘It looks like a very simple thing to see a man where there is a man, and not a camel, a horse, or spider’. The not-so-simple implication is that, beyond traditional categories of vision, there is room for in-depth modes of perception that will shuffle and blur taken-for-granted ontologies. My intention is to explore this concern which is pervasive in Frame’s work, but also to have a look particularly at her recent, posthumous publication, Towards Another Summer (2007), where the protagonist imagines herself as a migratory bird.
CEREP (Centre d'Enseignement et de Recherches en Etudes postcoloniales)
Researchers ; Professionals

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