A World of Reading:An Intertextual Study of Janet Frame's Novels

Neville, Patricia Jean (2018). A World of Reading:An Intertextual Study of Janet Frame's Novels. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000d0fa


This thesis sheds new light on Janet Frame’s major novels by investigating her extensive and wide-ranging personal reading throughout her lifetime. It demonstrates how she weaves together her literary sources to create a web of intertextual relationships. Frame’s poetic language and literary allusions encourage many-layered readings and Mikhail Bakhtin’s analyses of novelistic prose illuminate my central research question concerning the relationship between Frame’s reading and her novels. I detail the literary context of early twentieth-century New Zealand, available reading material; attitudes towards literacy; and Frame’s schooling. I make an exhaustive study of under-examined material in the children’s page of Frame’s local newspaper; school, college and university reading; and her reading during her maturity.

Frame considered poetry to be the highest of the literary arts, and I foreground the reading of poetry which chiefly informed Frame’s writing, including poetry which has so far not received attention, and show how her insertion of verse into her novels encourages a more investigative reading of her texts. I examine Frame’s use of the King James Bible, focussing on the less considered area of Frame’s use of the Bible’s poetry, before analysing her references to key Shakespeare plays. Finally I explore Frame’s allusion to folklore, European and Maori myth and oral literature. I examine the psychological insight of folk tale into childhood experience and its use in elucidating dark and uncommunicating elements of Frame’s characters.

My investigation makes an original contribution to Frame studies by revealing that there are aspects of Frame’s literary hinterland and her intertextual use of it which merit more attention than they have received: poets and prose writers who have played a major but largely unrecognised contribution to her novels; and that Frame’s intertextuality is deeper, broader and more self-conscious than has so far been considered.

Viewing alternatives


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions