Span: Journal of the South Pacific Assoc for Cwlth Lit and Language Studies
Number 36, 1992
Postcolonial Fictions:
Proceedings of the SPACLALS Triennial Conference 1992
Edited by Michèle Drouart

Fraying the Edge of an Alphabet

Howard McNaughton

Man is the only species for whom the disposal of waste is a burden, a task often ill-judged, costly, criminal - especially when he learns to include himself, living and dead, in the list of waste products.1

It is with the words of a structural anthropologist that Janet Frame begins her third novel: the voice of Thora Pattern, who lives at "the edge of the alphabet," and is recording her "voyage of discovery through the lives of three people - Toby, Zoe, Pat" (13). Or, rather, who lived at the edge of the alphabet - because an editorial Note on the previous page tells us that the typescript of the "novel" was found among Thora's papers after her death, so that Thora herself is represented as both "living and dead" and the publication of her writings is an exercise in "the disposal of waste." Moreover, Thora's function is from the start ambiguous: the voyage of discovery through the characters may be objective or subjective, they may be discoverers or the discovered, and Thora's mediation may be clinical observation or vicarious complicity in their voyages. Such an interplay between voyage and text has been schematized by Michel de Certeau, showing that "the stages by which the text represents its own production become inverted and coil in successive transformations from written to physical spaces, and vice versa."2 A similar ambiguity lies in the editing function: Peter Heron, who has delivered the manuscript to the publishers, appears as a character shortly before Zoe's death and responds to it by throwing his paintings, books, and newspapers into the rubbish, so that mediation in the textualizing or worlding function is self-voiding, a disavowal of text itself.

Thora may be viewed, then, not as the first "narrator"3 to appear in Frame's novels or as "a voice outside the action,"4 but as at the centre of it, and the structure can be seen not as self-conscious narratological over-laying but as reflexive condensation in which Frame's fiction is subsumed by an anthropological metafiction bearing on colonial discourse itself. A model of condensation is in fact set up through Toby's father, Bob, in the second chapter: "the man sharing his meal was not Toby, not Toby at all. Surely it was Bob's father, Henry Withers?" (20). And the process is theorized a page later:

Bob's use of the term "your mother" acted as a temporary disownment, a shifting of the responsibility and reality of the grief that had overtaken a personal relationship which had always been so complicated that it needed division anyway into two or three or four in order to survive. Your mother, Mum, Amy, The Wife. (21)

Behind the process of character-genesis and fragmentation, there is thus a dynamic of "disownment" or disavowal. Conversely, behind condensation may be found a dynamic of claiming or appropriation.

All the main figures - including Thora - are voyagers, they all vacillate between states of "living and dead," and their attempts at textualizing themselves place them at the eroding edge of a semiotic system. Zoe and Toby reciprocally visit each other's country, but it is Toby who is the controlling voyager. If Thora in the opening paragraph presents herself as Mary Douglas, mapping the topographies of purity and danger, Toby casts himself not as "Marco Polo or Herodotus" (46), but as Levi-Strauss, constructing in writing his "Lost Tribe," engaging in a ritual of reciprocity with the Pitcairn Islanders with such zeal that they invite him to stay (62), and committing himself to "The Lost Traveller's Dream of Speech" (49ff) with an assiduousness that recalls "A Writing Lesson."5 But it is when Toby reaches London that he emerges as colonizer:

Toby possessed the whole world. He moved in it as if it were his private estate. One word from him and the tenants would be evicted and no mercy shown them... . This obstinate conviction of his own power had driven him ten thousand miles across the world, to visit other lands, to walk in them as the rightful king, to force people to realise that Toby Withers was no ordinary epileptic... . Anyone could tell that he owned Hyde Park, that he alone knew it acreage and boundaries... . What is he doing in London except, as landlord, to survey a corner of his estate, to complain bitterly against the way his tenants are treating him, to issue eviction orders if necessary? (156, 158, 164)

In this, Toby is simply extending into another hemisphere the proprietorial position he claimed over his sisters' games of "playing house," when he imposed on them - as he later imposes on London - an "urgent system of personal economy" (34-5). But the euphoria that accompanies Toby's gaze of colonial appropriation also relates to Julia Kristeva's analysis of epilepsy:

[T]his humoral exaggeration, this pretentious swelling of one's "own and proper" states an essential given of the psyche in the process of being set up or collapsing under the sway of an already dominant Other ...6

Toby's "humoral exaggeration" is located not just in his claiming of Hyde Park, but also in his speech mannerism, the braying "Haw Haw" that punctuates his more expansive periods in London (140, 215-7). And the braying also penetrates Zoe's inner desperation, transposed into biblical pastiche: "Ha Ha they say among trumpets and thieves and novelettes ..." (191).7

Toby's laughter is a possible means of access to the dead (103). Unlike Zoe and Thora, Toby does not die. But he lives in constant communion with the dead, not just his mother and father (126), but through his epilepsy. Toby's body - as well as his mind - is a genotextual arena of conflict between the living and dead, a body as well as a conflict which carries with it a burden of waste and abjection.8 The novel starts with Toby integrating the voyage in his mutilated body through "bleeding" and "withered" feet (13, 14), but his body is also accommodating his mother's death, the catalyst for his travels to trace his lost ancestors (14). Even the motif of the lost tribe is internalized in his body from the start (14), and later through the poisoned arm which tells Pat that "he was suffering from outbreaks of poison, like tribal fighting, in areas of his body" (187). Toby's body is thus a cartographic representation of much more than genetic history; it also records travel and the impulse towards (pheno) textualisation in the impossible story of the lost tribe. And inasmuch as Amy's imperative is to find a lost tribe of ancestors, his body is extended spatially to map the (possible) voyage of recovery that is the precise echo of the (assumed actual) voyage of discovery that took the ancestors to Waimaru initially. Toby's epileptic body is a site of complex condensation of the colonizing and de-colonizing projects, realized as such when it is distorted by the mirrors of the Pleasure Gardens:

One moment the mirrors transferred him into a dwarf with his legs too short, his face elongated, his hair like tussock overgrown. Then his body was a palace of width, a huge doorway of flesh and fat and the smile on his lips wound like a creek through his face. And then his lips were telephone lines and his eyes were capstans unwinding, winding coils of sight that anchored there; his cheeks swung from their hooks, dripping with blood; his legs were avenues, overhanging the lonely road out of town.

And suddenly he was thin, he was tissue-paper and distance. He grew afraid then. He looked for a mirror which would show himself, Toby Withers, his distinct identity; but in all the images he stared at, he was nowhere to be found. There, look, was the boy down the road, the Mongol boy, and the woman who kept the store, and there were his aunts, Aunty Marge, Aunt Cora, Aunt Norma, his family, his father - why should he look in the mirror and see his father? - and his mother. Why had he surrendered the right to be himself? Why had the mirrors given him the terrible responsibility of being other people? He had been driven from himself as a rabbit is driven from its burrow, and here he was now, unprotected, unhoused, like a rabbit alone under a sky of circling hawks, of hungry identities preying upon him. (217)

This whole vision is precipitated by Toby's echoing "Haw Haw," "the kind of laughter which the family always tried to make him suppress" (217), so that it manifests itself as condensation of and by the repressers. But as well as a psychic overlaying of identities, there is also a topographical mapping of the voyage of discovery and communications, through the "palace," the "doorway," the "creek," the "telephone lines," the "avenues," and the "lonely road out of town." The only absence in the map is himself, so that the mirror brings not the Narcissus of [Kristeva's] Ovid but that of Pausanias,9 the image of the "dominant Other." Instead of being the dominant explorer, Toby's body becomes the site of invasion, of penetration, of colonization, of everything that his stance as landlord of the world has denied and repressed. As abject, he is neither subject nor object, but the "in-between."

In the mirror, Toby's body becomes an empty screen on to which is projected other identities. But as well as identity it charts communications structures - telephone lines and avenues - semiotic channels. The distorting mirror of condensation and displacement is thus the condition of those who live on the edge of an alphabet, on the fringe of a semiotic paradigm, making their entry into representation tentative, sometimes as illusory and as arbitrary as the rain of signifiers from Toby's sky or the scramble of paradigms that shower down in The Carpathians.10

For Toby, the mirror that steals his shape also steals his fragile emergence as subject, and the final chapter finds him relegated to the status of exhibit in Aunt Cora's family museum, the ultimate factory of semiotic rupture and abjection: "when one is ageing or ill, when one's bones, turning to chalk, are in danger of breaking into articulate language, one is often put out for someone to 'collect' like the weekly refuse" (221). The condition realizes Toby's abjection, though he himself can never perceive it. In Aunt Cora, he has rediscovered the mother from whom he has never fully detached, and who herself is in the process of being "taken" by the mother State (222). Toby is never far from the Kristevan genotext. His entry into the symbolic is fractured by his phatic "Haw Haw," and phenotextual elements like avenues inscribe his body as a genotextual ecology. In Owls Do Cry, the sea inhabited his ear, interrogating him.11 Here, the sea again invades his body through his ear, destructive of his self, his semiotic paradigm, and his aspiration to textualization:

They gave me a booklet bound in red and blue with names and photos. The sea crashes against the alphabet, the letters crack and split like icing when the soft sweetness has worn away and only the brittle water-tasting bones remain. What? My left ear causes me some trouble. Did you say the passenger list? I have words sometimes, you know. (70-1)

Writing itself is genotextual for Toby, an act of invasion which "occupied his entire body, creased a frown on his forehead, thrust his tongue out the side of his mouth, forced his fingers to grasp too tightly" (62). Toby cannot reconcile himself with the symbolic, in either the Kristevan or the Piercean sense, so that he cannot easily move from ideogram to alphabetic paradigm:

In his mind Toby saw pictures of words - they allowed him that indulgence - yet when he tried to write them they refused to leave him, would not be uprooted, and the picture of their letters ... changed to spider-blots, nothing but blots of ink... . Sometimes Toby felt the words moving in his arms, down his arm into his hand, wriggling like silkworms (63).

Symbolic representation thus becomes locked into his body, a body which constructs itself in terms of epileptic fits, blackouts, erasure of motor co-ordination. The technology of getting the words out becomes a problem of corporeal abjection, excretion, a burden of waste-disposal, pictured by Thora as dealing with the "beetle-diarrhoea of newsprint" (210). Pivotal to the problem of verbalisation is a problem of perception, in which consciousness comes with the accusation of "Who wet the bed?" (16), so that perception, inscribing the blank of the black-out with an epileptic fit, is premised on excretion. Even when he does not lose consciousness in a fit, urine superscribes his body and reconstructs it with a genotextual topography of "alleys and ridges" (145).

But the blank of Toby's epileptic recuperation remains a blank in his controlling textual project: his lost tribe remains lost, and throughout the novel is an interplay between the voyage of discovery and the travellers' inscription of a blank. Texts and libraries recur throughout Frame's novel as an ambiguous territory of self-inscription. Just as De Certeau emphasizes the library at the centre of the Nautilus in Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, so there is a library at the centre of the Matua, known to Zoe (92), and to which Toby goes to trace his superscribed identity of Orpheus (101). Toby remembers Miss Edgeworth's book-stall in Waimaru, and the books she got from the lending library, to which he conjectures a genotextual response: "Did she [after reading a book] sometimes turn and twist her thin hands to make ... a shadow world upon the wall?" (117) To reify the experience of her first kiss, Zoe visits Rodin's The Kiss, and tries to buy a book on sexually transmitted diseases, getting instead an encyclopaedia of sex (189), a bodily internalization of the voyage experience that parallels Toby's. Even the mirror is a library that defies navigation.

But the central texts that propel the characters are those that are unwritten. Toby turns "the blank pages of the exercise book where he planned to write about the Lost Tribe" (168), precisely analogous to the void that constitutes Zoe's "private research" (155, 172, 181, 206). And even Pat stops being a bus driver, a controller of voyages, to become a stationery supervisor asking customers "Just how much blank paper do you need, sir, to match your blank life?" (207). The question, which Pat as surrogate editor-manager might also pose to the other characters, contains an implication central to the novel: the blankness of their writing matches the blankness of their reading.

Once the textual delvings of De Certeau's model are perceived as blanks, so is the status of the voyage condensed to a vacuum. Zoe's encounter with Toby's home town is just a blur (178), just as Toby can see little in England that is not New Zealand's back paddock. Zoe's anxiety is to erase the genotextual imprint of her travels so that she does not leave her "fingerprints in foreign places" (77), and Heron destroys the painting he did on the night of her death, a city whose buildings "resembled human skin, and the whole city a shape of a magnified human finger-print whorled with streets" (210). Voyaging round the edge of an alphabet for them is treading the cliff-face of semiosis, and Zoe's death means plunging over it (203): they have no paradigm outside the bodily self with which to mark the movement, and even "epilepsy" is a word that does not exist in the dictionary (45). As in Levi-Strauss's "Lost World," the voyagers are "all busy drawing wavy, horizontal lines" and after completing a line "examined it anxiously as if expecting the meaning to leap from the page."12 Similarly, Toby's writing consists of "squiggles on the table" (149), but it is the rubber on the end of his pencil, the instrument of erasure, that fascinates him. If he is "capable of producing, that is to say of obliterating" his proper name, he is not able through that to bring "classificatory difference into play."13 When he reads his "writing," it is his abject, his burden of waste from the opening of the novel: "blots, fly-specks (like the dead) mouse-dirt, a mess to be cleaned up" (63).

The project of post-colonial reclamation may thus appear self-voiding because it can articulate itself only in the alphabet of the parent culture, a paradox frequently noted by Kristeva in terms of the entry of the semiotic into the symbolic. But, as Ash and Henke have demonstrated with The Carpathians,14 it is also possible to read this dissolution of boundaries as postmodern, and thus Toby's cartographical project as a denial of colonial alterity:

A map [is not] ... merely a series of lines inscribed on a previously blank surface. There is an alterity which provokes the desire to map, to contain and to represent - which is to say, to make familiar. At the same time, the very mapping of this difference produces its differences in terms of the economy of the same.15

All commentators on the novel have noted the thematic prominence of death,16 but this also has technical applications, in the erasure motif. Moreover, the trajectory of death follows gender delineations: the women [Amy, Thora, Zoe] die, while the men [Toby, Pat, Peter Heron] survive. This is, however, not a crude assertion of patriarchy as gynocide, because each of the surviving males has profound difficulty in reading the feminine. This is epitomized in Pat's appalment at Zoe's cartography of the female body, but it also extends throughout Toby's relationship with his mother. This disavowal of the feminine correlates with a "putting-to-death of the feminine":

The dead woman is the untouchable absolute that serves as halo for the forbidden mother... . [W]oman (the other, the object) has been abolished, yet to be born again in that maximal crystallization constituted by postmortuary love where the writer projects the almightiness of his desire to possess her, to possess himself beyond her. His women, masterful and dead, remind us that phallic idealization is built upon the pedestal of a putting-to-death of the feminine body.17

Toby "projects his almightiness" as lord of his parent culture, but also in his reclamation of Cora as archaic chora;18 the pun is both fortuitous and inescapable, but also indicative of Frame's precocious status as her own theorist. Cora, who had previously disavowed him as an epileptic, now accepts him, and the precondition for acceptance is his status as traveller, just as it was his mother who first sent him off. Toby returns "like a boomerang to the invoking body," and reaches stasis in a "jolt of laughter."19 Commentators over-read the name Thora to find allusions to a Scandanavian deity, and overlook the fact that the word, also sounding vaguely Greek, simply rhymes with Cora: Toby's voyage is from Thora to Cora, from author/creator to creature/creatrix, whose radical splitting of the self20 exposes the chasm which is the novel, the space of the abolished woman.

Pat's difficulty with the female body seems more straightforward:

Pat shut his eyes. - I refuse to look, he said.

He opened his eyes, glancing quickly at the page. He glanced again, tracing the complications of the inset diagrams and the letters, arrows, numbers. - Good Lord! he cried in amazement. - A woman's not like that! Not like that! (190)

Pat's response accords with Freud's analysis of neurotic men who find the female genitals "uncanny,"21 and reflects on the failure of his own exploratory project, to find a "wife" in New Zealand (53-4). But it also parallels his reaction to Toby's friendship with the Pitcairn Islanders:

He goes on deck, he buys fruit, he talks to the Islanders, they give him an invitation to stay, the invitation they give to all the passengers of every liner that passes Pitcairn; and he comes down here as if he were the only one invited (62).

Toby's familiarity is of course a product of epileptic psychosis,22 foreshadowed in his amazement at the sudden "familiarity" of the North Island as "no new land made visible, no discovered world" (25). But Pat's response is similar to his response to the encyclopaedia of sex: Toby's Heimlichkeit to Pat unheimliche. This is simply "the uncanny effect of epileptic fits,"23 uncanny to the layperson observer but not to the epileptic, leading to the question: can Toby, as an epileptic psychotic who reads the globe as his estate, have any sense of the uncanny? Bob's condensation of son-as-father (20) is a simple case of an uncanny double,24 but in Toby's confrontation with the distorting mirror his anxiety arises because he can find no element of autoscopic doubling:25 he "grew afraid" because "in all the images he stared at, he was nowhere to be found" (217).26 Though the appearance of the dead is a primary manifestation of the uncanny,27 Toby seems to have no "primitive fear of the dead"28 and even addresses his mother as an "old witch" (44, 45). For Kristeva, evacuation of the uncanny is the prerogative of the king: "strangeness is for the "subjects," the sovereign ignores it, knowing how to have it administered."29 Toby, the lad "born to be king" (43), walks on the water as Christ (14, 167); to him, as landlord of the world, the very idea of uncanny strangeness is itself unfamiliar.

Contact with the dead is not the monopoly of Toby. Zoe, whose name means "life," dies without a suicide note (204). Thora compensates for the blank of her death by inscribing it in verse (208),30 before she herself dies, which she leaves for Peter Heron to inscribe. The whole novel is thus a stratification of the uncanny, in that it offers death as quotative of death. Thora's writing of a suicide note to Zoe may in these terms be seen as reflexive, the work of the "captives of the captive dead" (224), but the lexicon of that note starts with a dissolution of agency: "life offers machines for the purpose" (208). Death is available as an automaton, the culmination of the images of dolls, toys, funfairs, roundabouts, and circuses that recur throughout the novel, mechanized simulacra of life manipulated by the "Keeper of the Merry-Go-Round" (209) who turns out to be an absence. Toby and Zoe both work at cinemas, representation factories, where people say, "to quell their [uncanny] doubts" that the supervisor is "human underneath" (175).

The ambiguity of the automaton invaded by life is Freud's starting-point in the articulation of the uncanny,31 and reaches its logical fruition in the cyberpunk of the 1980s: "the sky above ... was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."32 But television as an uncanny window on death is also the voice of Toby"s mirror world:

... just look at the sky, blurred and coming down on us like the telly with the Horizontal Hold broken... . But the sky then in its frame of light slipped from the Horizontal Hold. The mirrors and the world blurred. Darkness came. (216, 218)

It is from this window, on the advice of his mother, the quotation of the quoting dead, that Toby leaves Europe to return to the chora.

Contact with the uncanny is not confined to male characters, and errupts even in Zoe's condensing mirror world, where death is technologized as television:

[P]eople were all the time being extended, distorted, merged, melted ... like pictures on a television set when the tube is broken or worn out and no one will repair or replace it; the silver tube was set now in the sky or in one's own head ... . Let us be empty shapes of people, like those negatives of photographs where the developed prints have been destroyed and all that remain are shadows enclosed in a boundary of frothing light. (195, 201)

Television - whether new or worn out - is a property that does not exist in the Waimaru of 1962, where no one has a "silver tube" in the head, except perhaps for the pioneer cyberpunk, Toby, whose epilepsy is a massive uncontrolled electric discharge in the brain.33

But Waimaru is not entirely innocent of technoculture. Even before Toby's cyborg vision imposed its "grid of control on the planet," unafraid of his "joint kinship with animals and machines,"34 the citizens gathered to watch - and become - magic lantern slides (35, 103) like the negatives of Zoe's mirror world. Multiple exposure on a single photographic plate was one of the seminal principles in Freud's articulation of Traumentstellung [distortion in dreams],35 and with Toby it becomes the mechanics of the grid of control not just of his mind but also of his territorialized world.

Toby's world - and to a varying extent that of the other travellers - is genotextual in that as a subject he is not yet a split unity, unable to bring "classificatory difference into play." He thus organizes the space that he colonizes and territorializes, the ecological and social system surrounding his body, according to his bodily economy. Bodily fracture, abjection, and waste disposal become inseparable from semiotic fracture. Toby is told to read the "small black book on fractures and haemorrhages," and so he brews some beer in the copper and gets drunk (119). All the characters see writing as excrement (13, 22, 63), but the fractured units of semiosis with which their world is inscribed are also bodily waste, particularly bones which constitute a "broken script" (123f, 166).

Toby's ambivalent mission to demonstrate that he is "no ordinary epileptic" nicely articulates the paradox that Freud found at the centre of the uncanny. Toby may be an epileptic prone to interictal psychosis,36 but within the body of the novel he is not abnormal but integral. He is a function of Thora's textualizing project, a surrogate part of herself, and he has an invasive impact on all the other characters. His mere presence makes Zoe feel that the world is a metal globe, a broken "revolving mechanism" with bits flying off and penetrating the body (100). The precondition of Thora's death is the perception of the unheimlich Toby as in fact heimlich - part of her own corps propre - just as the death of Zoe, whose sexual odyssey has faltered at the first kiss, is contextualized within the suddenly homely familiarity of London's gays and prostitutes whose "occupation is with boundaries, in a border country where people still carry their worn maps" (201).

Zoe's denial of ordinariness is also a denial of difference, as Toby asserts: "Everybody comes from the other side of the world. Haw Haw, it's a good excuse" (104). To which Thora (or Toby-in-Thora) adds the gloss that the very idea of colonial alterity is a conceit "to put seas and continents between yourself and someone whose ways are often so strange that they frighten you." Toby is thus both the homogenizing colonizer and the colonized heterogeneous other,37 who strides over seas and continents to repudiate difference itself.

Just as the ecology of (in)difference maps itself in Toby's body, so is its economy registered in his perception of travel as a search for a bargain. When people journey, "parts of them [are] lost" (145), like the bits flying off the mechanized globe through De Certeau's mediation of territory by the machine. Toby and Zoe are not only functionaries of cinemas but are also cleaners, collectors of "conventional cinema leavings" (176) such as handbags and newborn babies, the cinematic abject. But the "store of human leavings" (144), the burden of waste-disposal of the novel's first sentence, is exercised by travel itself, most blatantly through the great railway sale. Like the ambivalent voyage of discovery, this is both subjective and objective: as Thora uses and is used by her voyaging characters, so the railway is both an abjection-machine and the traveller's abject, something that the Waimaru chora can smugly repudiate. This was the transcendence of Bob in his wicker-chair at the end of Owls Do Cry (211), and it extends to Toby's italicised non-signifying wheel-chair at the edge of the alphabet (51); the wheel-chair is a cocoon of immobility, a defense against the inscribed globe as much as against italicized language itself. Through semiotic stasis, Toby defends himself against the violence of inscription, the crumbling alphabet; none of himself is lost through the erosion of journey or textuality.

University of Canterbury, NZ


1 Janet Frame, The Edge of the Alphabet (Christchurch: Pegasus, 1962) 13. In-text references are to this edition.

2 De Certeau, Heterologies: Discourse on the Other, trans. Brian Massumi, foreword by Wlad Godzich (Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1986) 140.

3 Judith Dell Panny, I Have What I Gave: The Fiction of Janet Frame (Wellington: Daphne Brasell, 1992) 39.

4 Patrick Evans, Janet Frame (Boston: G.K. Hall, 1977) 88.

5 Claude Levi-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques, trans. John and Doreen Weightman (1955; London: Jonathan Cape, 1973) 294ff.

6 Kristeva, Black Sun: Depression and Melancholia, trans. Leon S. Roudiez (New York: Columbia University Press, 1989) 182.

7 Job 39.25.

8 On genotext, see Kristeva, Revolution in Poetic Language, trans. Margaret Waller (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1984) 86ff, and cf. Elizabeth Grosz, Sexual Subversions: Three French Feminists (Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1989) 50, and Edmond Cros, Theory and Practice of Sociocriticism, trans. Jerome Schwartz (1983; Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1988) 75-77. On the relation between epilepsy, the "dead room," and the Kristevan genotext, see my "Abjection, Melancholy, and the End-note: The Epilogue to Owls Do Cry," Journal of New Zealand Literature (1993).

9 As I have argued elsewhere, the motif of the Pausanian Narcissus is pivotal to Faces in the Water.

10 Frame, The Carpathians (Auckland: Century Hutchinson, 1988) 27. In-text references are to this edition.

11 Frame, Owls Do Cry (New York: George Braziller, 1960) 112. In-text references are to this edition.

12 Levi-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques, 296.

13 Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology, trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (1967; Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1976) 109.

14 Susan Ash, "The Narrative Frame: 'Unleashing (Im)possibilities'", Suzette Henke, "The Postmodern Frame: Metalepsis and Discursive Fragmentation in Janet Frame's The Carpathians," Australian and New Zealand Studies in Canada, 5 (Spring 1991): 1-15, 29-38.

15 Rosalyn Diprose and Robyn Ferrell, eds., Cartographies: Poststructuralism and the Mapping of Bodies and Spaces (Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1991) ix.

16 Notably Gina Mercer, "The Edge of the Alphabet Journey: Destination Death," Australian and New Zealand Studies in Canada, 5 (Spring 1991) 39-57.

17 Kristeva, Tales of Love, trans. Leon S. Roudiez (New York: Columbia University Press, 1987) 356-7.

18 Kristeva, Revolution, 25. Cf. Grosz, Sexual Subversions, 78. Kristeva, of course, did not invent the word, but extended Plato's usage as "receptacle, position, proper place," related to the idea of "place of refuge" in Timaeus 49.

19 Kristeva, Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art, ed. Leon S. Roudiez, trans. Thomas Gora, Alice Jardine, and Leon S. Roudiez (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1980; Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1981), 284.

20 See Kristeva, "Women's Time," trans. Alice Jardine and Harry Blake, introd. Alice Jardine, Signs, 7, No. 1 (Autumn 1981) 31.

21 Sigmund Freud, "The 'Uncanny,'" in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, trans. and ed. James Strachey, vol. 17 (London: Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psychoanalysis, 1955) 245.

22 Harold I. Kaplan and Benjamin J. Sadock (eds), Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry (Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 5th edition, 1989) 1, 847-9.

23 Freud, 226, 243.

24 Freud, 234-5.

25 Freud, 248, note 1; cf Kaplan and Sadock, 850.

26 Toby does, however, figure in his own dream in Owls Do Cry ( 98-101), where his sisters double as uncanny witches.

27 Freud, 246.

28 Freud, p242.

29 Kristeva, Strangers to Ourselves, trans. Leon S. Roudiez (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991) 190.

30 Curiously, Mercer (pp. 46f) reads this as Zoe's writing.

31 Freud, 227.

32 William Gibson, Neuromancer (New York: Ace, 1984).

33 John Radford and Ernest Govier (eds), A Textbook of Psychology (London and New York: Routledge, revised edition, 1991), 208; in other words, this is a bodily accommodation of the ECT which Daphne resisted in Owls Do Cry.

34 Donna Harraway, "A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism in the 1980s", Socialist Review, 80 (1985) 72.

35 Sigmund Freud, "The Interpretation of Dreams" in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, trans. and ed. James Strachey, vol. 4 (London: Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psychoanalysis, 1963) 139.

36 In the first draft of the novel (Hocken M.1/879/C), it is Peter Heron who is labelled psychotic, painting projects of painting, while Toby actually writes "The Lost Tribe" and gives it to Thora to read.

37 Kaplan and Sadock, 847.

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