Graham Huggan


Similarities between the work of Margaret Atwood, in Canada, and Janet Frame, in New Zealand, are indicative of a cross-cultural concern for the position of the woman writer in the New World. This combination of trenchant satire and introspective lyricism in their novels, for example, can be taken as deriving from a common desire to undermine the dominant power-structures of their respective societies and to re-value the inner life which those societies have violated, repressed or neglected. For both Atwood and Frame, the problems of the post-colonial writer, converging with those of the woman writer, condense into the central issue of how to express oneself freely in a language which is already 'colonized', residually Eurocentric in outlook, persistently masculine in diction and syntax. Both writers have been seen in this context as working towards the definition of a 'decolonized' poetics: a more useful alternative, however, might be to emphasize their avoidance of definition and to look instead at the ways in which, to borrow Sherill Grace's phrase, they 'articulate the space between'.^ Seen in this light, Atwood and Frame are less writers in search of an 'identity^ than writers who actively resist the notion of identity by associating it with stasis, reduction, and inflexibility.



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