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Janet Frame

  • ... when I first began this diary I said I would give a record of my inner life. I begin to wonder if I have said anything about my inner life. What if I have no inner life?

  • Every morning I woke in dread, waiting for the day nurse to go on her rounds and announce from the list of names in her hand whether or not I was for shock treatment, the new and fashionable means of quieting people and of making them realize that orders are to be obeyed and floors are to be polished without anyone protesting and faces are made to be fixed into smiles and weeping is a crime.

  • ... 'the sooner you "settle" the sooner you'll be allowed home' was the ruling logic; and 'if you can't adapt yourself to living in a mental hospital how do you expect to be able to live "out in the world"?' How indeed?

  • 'For your own good' is a persuasive argument that will eventually make man agree to his own destruction.

  • It is always hard to believe that the will to change something does not produce an immediate change.

  • Patients did not usually interrupt his rounds and any delay in his progress caused as much concern among the staff as if an important train carrying bullion had been held up by bandits.

  • Conversation is the wall we build between ourselves and other people, too often with tired words like used and broken bottles which, catching the sunlight as they lie embedded in the wall, are mistaken for jewels.

  • Deep from her blue apron pocket / she drew a ripe orange to slice / and squirt light / — your mouth was stained with sun.

    • Janet Frame,
    • "Summer," The Pocket Mirror ()
  • Bereavement is waiting, waiting for / a known death to be undone ...

    • Janet Frame,
    • "Some Thoughts on Bereavement," The Pocket Mirror ()
  • It would be nice to travel if you knew where you were going and where you would live at the end or do we ever know, do we ever live where we live, we're always in other places, lost, like sheep.

  • Writing an autobiography, usually thought of as a looking back, can just as well be a looking across or through, with the passing of time giving an X-ray quality to the eye.

  • ... time past is not time gone, it is time accumulated with the host resembling the character in the fairytale who was joined along the route by more and more characters none of whom could be separated from one another or from the host, with some stuck so fast that their presence caused physical pain.

  • Death is a dramatic accomplishment of absence; language may be almost as effective.

  • All writers are exiles wherever they live and their work is a lifelong journey towards the lost land ...

  • Writing a novel is not merely going on a shopping expedition across the border to an unreal land: it is hours and years spent in the factories, the streets, the cathedrals of the imagination.

  • There is no past or future. Using tenses to divide time is like making chalk-marks on water.

Janet Frame, New Zealand writer

(1924 - 2004)