"Making Chalk Marks on Water": Time and the Sea in Janet Frame's Faces In The Water and "The Lagoon"

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This essay reads Janet Frame’s novel Faces in the Water and her short story “The Lagoon” through a focus on their deployment of tropes of space and place which express geographies of the mind. It particularly considers images connected with land and sea and the littoral spaces where they meet. Distinguishing Frame from other writers who develop parallels between their protagonists’ mental states and the material environments in which they move, it argues that she collapses the borderline between physical and psychic geography and in so doing dismantles conventional conceptions of time as well as place. The essay also contends that Frame’s use of spatial tropes has implications for the approach to subjectivity and the view of the provenance of “story” that is developed in the two texts. Frame’s topographies interrogate notions of “normality” and see writing as an activity that is analogous to “making chalk marks on water.” The essay suggests that the liminal title-image of “The Lagoon” provides a focal-point for metafictive reflections on the making of narrative.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-86
Number of pages9
JournalCommonwealth Essays and Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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