Is Near To . . . and is . . . Distant From: Exegetical Manoeuvres in Janet Frame's The Carpathians
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This paper argues that Janet Frame's 1988 novel, The Carpathians, can be read as a series of manoeuvres operating at the frontiers of exegesis and fiction. The overall effect of these manoeuvres is to interrogate the conditions of an exegetical (or literary critical) engagement with Frame's writings. In particular, The Carpathians drills down into the metaphorics of one of the key notions of literary criticism: critical distance. Critical distance is a catch phrase of exegesis, as well as of literary criticism, because it serves to appropriately position the exegete (like the literary critic) as both near to and distant from the object of study: the literary text. However, Frame's fictional/Scientific concept of the Gravity Star deconstructs the metaphorics of distance and, by extension, critical distance itself, by suggesting a para-doxical relationship of propinquity and remoteness. The Gravity Star is 'both relatively close and seven billion light years away.' Thus, Frame introduces chaos into language and logic, with the dual effect of undermining exegetical activity (which depends on the metaphorics linked to critical distance) and of creatively multiplying the meanings of The Carpathians. In this way, Frame's novel replaces conventional exegesis with creative exegesis. My paper also looks at the games Frame plays, in this novel and in Towards Another Summer (2007), with Roland Barthes's notion of the 'death of the Author.' Like critical distance, the Author is a prop for exegesis that certain manoeuvres of writing can undermine, thus allowing the literary text to reproduce itself on an interior plane.
And Is Papers: Proceedings of the 12th Conference of the AAWP