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...