Friday, July 27, 2007

Exporting Frame

Bill Direen is on the warpath:

I have just heard that a Janet Frame MS, handwritten, is to leave NZ. It will be offered for auction by, of all people, the NZ Studies Assn, who should know better.

Here's the release I've just received:

Dear All - Some of you may be aware that the Centre for New Zealand Studies was gifted a Janet Frame pre-proof MS (typed and significantly annotated) for 'A State of Siege'. The Centre has also been gifted an A4 size notebook of CK Stead's, containing many drafts and ideas for his work. The two were gifted from separate donors with the intention of helping to raise funds to support the future of the Centre.

Both were offered to the Turnbull library but the sums that they presented were very low, and far beneath the values placed by independent auctioneers. After some consultation the decision was taken to place both into an auction - which is taking place at Dunbar Sloane in Wellington on 2 August. Details are provided below. The two MS are catalogued as star items within the auction (the Frame Ms has a reserve of NZ$14,000). Please be advised that high quality photocopies of both MS have been made and stored within the Centre and are available for reference by visiting scholars.

IS THIS NOT A SHAME...let's do something to try and stop the sale...but what can we do?


Personally I'm not too worried about the manuscript of a great New Zealand novel going overseas, as long as a copy has been made for local scholars. I've always thought that the reproducibility of literature gives it a democratic quality that many of the other arts lack. Aesthetically speaking, one copy of a novel or poem or an essay (or of the manuscript draft of a novel or poem or essay) is as good as another. The cult of the original artifact which has done so much to ruin the culture of the visual arts does not have the same hold over literature.

Perhaps Bill should advocate the publication of a facsimilie edition of the original manuscript of A State of Siege? It's been done for Nineteen Eighty Four...


Anonymous Dr Ian Conrich said...

Dear Bill - As a friend I thought you would have contacted me first. What you write is an unfair representation and I never before saw you as a scaremonger. You should definitely read and think carefully about the release you have posted. The copy has for its entire life been within the UK, where it was typed by Janet Frame - it has only gone to NZ for the auction. If the Centre for New Zealand Studies had not been involved then the MS would perhaps remained unseen, and as it is a high quality photocopy has been deposited in the Centre for reference. Everything to do with New Zealand's creativity that has been gifted by the creator overseas cannot be ordered back to NZ. As a creative person yourself you should know that. But I followed much consultation and I did offer it to the Turnbull for sale long before the auction was considered. Alas, the amount offered was in the words of many "insulting". And we were prepared to let it be sold to the Turnbull for much less than the amount it has as a reserve in auction. The Centre for New Zealand Studies has already done so many things for NZ Studies - you know that from all the emails that you receive. But without financial support from NZ, the Centre (unique in the world for focusing on NZ Studies) needs to find ways to survive. In other circumstances the MS could have been gifted to an NZ institution.

1:19 pm  
Anonymous Dr Ian Conrich said...

To add to the above, my comment was posted in response to a blog which apparently Bill Direen had posted. I have since learnt that he did not post the above. My comments are therefore in response to a posting that is not what it seems.

11:47 pm  

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