Janet Frame's Fictions: Madness and the Subject of Writing in the Narration of Women's Lives
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There is a certain resistance to engage in the discourse of and about madness and woman, and we have to wait until feminist criticism in the late 1970s and 1980s opens up a space where theorization and social and critical debate may arise. My essay is an attempt to examine in what way madness does account for what we call literature and what is the relation between women and madness in our reading of contemporary texts. This paper aims at rethinking women’s madness approaching a selection of Janet Frame’s fictions, especially her two novels, Faces in the Water (1961) and Scented Gardens for the Blind (1963). Both narratives pose several crucial questions such as the relationship of silence to confinement, death and madness, the subject’s acquisition of existential guilt, and the characters’ interrelations within an Oedipal configuration. After a retreat into silence, tropes, images and symbols all seem to contribute to Frame’s breaking through the wall of language to finally discover that it opens into darkness. And what is the oracular message of woman in these narratives where madness is so poignantly thematized?