'Encircling Tubes of Being': New Zealand As Hypothetical Site in Janet Frame's A State of Siege (1966). 'Encircling Tubes of Being': New Zealand As Hypothetical Site in Janet Frame's A State of Siege (1966).

'Encircling Tubes of Being': New Zealand As Hypothetical Site in Janet Frame's A State of Siege (1966)‪.‬

JNZL: Journal of New Zealand Literature, 2005, Dec, 23, 2

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Publisher Description

Over the years, several critics have noted Janet Frame's ambivalence towards character and her tendency to deploy characters in her novels as 'philosophical embodiment[s] of an idea', (1) rather than to focus on well-rounded life-like characterisation. Most recently, Marc Delrez aptly observed Frame's tendency 'to approach ... characters as privileged instruments of exploration, ... to use her characters in a quest for gems of meaning'. (2) What has been neglected, however, is Frame's capacity to use place, specifically New Zealand, in a similar way. 'Place' in Frame's work is not necessarily about 'place' in the socio-political ways the social realist, cultural nationalist and postcolonial traditions would variously construe it. Instead, Frame can be seen to subordinate the concrete to the abstract by using place to enact philosophical pursuits. The novel that most exemplifies this paradigm is also the Frame text that seems most like an engagement with New Zealand as place: her 1966 novel A State of Siege. Alex Calder prefaced his innovative reading of A State of Siege by observing that 'perhaps the most obvious way to interpret the novel is to emphasise those aspects of the text which conform to the classic pattern Roger Horrocks has called "a New Zealand Reading".' (3) A State of Siege does present all the classic trappings of a settler narrative. There is landfall, an island, an arrival, and an overriding concern with the relationship between self and place. Yet, where Bruce Harding writes that 'A State of Siege enacts a profound and prophetic mythos of homecoming and the discovering of indigeneity for the Pakeha that is ultimately too deep for words', (4) I maintain that the novel functions on a far more literal principle of enactment, under which Frame's representation of New Zealand, along with her concern with New Zealand's representation of itself to itself, is ultimately in the service of a philosophical exploration; that, in other words, New Zealand is deployed as the hypothetical site for an enactment of the novel's exploration. In this article I want to establish the central exploration of A State of Siege, to then look at the ways in which place and the cultural nationalist aspects of the text are used as vehicles for the enactment of that exploration, and finally to consider how an understanding of this modus operandi elucidates the novel's controversial conclusion.

GENRE
Professional & Technical
RELEASED
2005
December 1
LANGUAGE
EN
English
LENGTH
17
Pages
PUBLISHER
University of Waikato
SELLER
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.
SIZE
206.3
KB

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