Self Impression: Life-Writing, Autobiografiction, and the Forms of Modern Literature

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9780199657698: Self Impression: Life-Writing, Autobiografiction, and the Forms of Modern Literature

'I am aware that, once my pen intervenes, I can make whatever I like out of what I was.' Paul Valery, Moi.

Modernism is often characterized as a movement of impersonality; a rejection of auto/biography. But most of the major works of European modernism and postmodernism engage in very profound and central ways with questions about life-writing. Max Saunders explores the ways in which modern writers from the 1870s to the 1930s experimented with forms of life-writing - biography, autobiography, memoir, diary, journal - increasingly for the purposes of fiction. He identifies a wave of new hybrid forms from the late nineteenth century and uses the term 'autobiografiction' - discovered in a surprisingly early essay of 1906 - to provide a fresh perspective on turn-of-the-century literature, and to propose a radically new literary history of Modernism.

Saunders offers a taxonomy of the extraordinary variety of experiments with life-writing, demonstrating how they arose in the nineteenth century as the pressures of secularization and psychological theory disturbed the categories of biography and autobiography, in works by authors such as Pater, Ruskin, Proust, 'Mark Rutherford', George Gissing, and A. C. Benson. He goes on to look at writers experimenting further with autobiografiction as Impressionism turns into Modernism, juxtaposing detailed and vivacious readings of key Modernist texts by Joyce, Stein, Pound, and Woolf, with explorations of the work of other authors - including H. G. Wells, Henry James, Joseph Conrad, Ford Madox Ford, and Wyndham Lewis - whose experiments with life-writing forms are no less striking. The book concludes with a consideration of the afterlife of these fascinating experiments in the postmodern literature of Nabokov, Lessing, and Byatt.

Self Impression sheds light on a number of significant but under-theorized issues; the meanings of 'autobiographical', the generic implications of literary autobiography, and the intriguing relation between autobiography and fiction in the period.

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About the Author:


Max Saunders is Director of the Arts and Humanities Research Institute and Professor of English and Co-Director at the Centre for Life-Writing Research at King's College London.

Review:

Review from previous edition: "It is likely to become a major critical resource, not just for research on early twentieth-century life-writing, but also as part of the ongoing revision of the whole century's literary history."

--Bharat Tandon, Times Literary Supplement 13/08/2010

"a remarkable book, in its length, its historical range (Pater to Byatt) and its fluid genre crossings... Saunders explores the relationship of autobiography to fiction in general, the relationship of the synthetic category 'autobiografiction' to modernism, and by so doing gives us an
unusually unified account of modernism... The sheer weight of research and knowledge is astonishing and lightly, even conversationally, worn; Saunders seems to have read every fiction, auto-fiction and pseudo-fiction from the last 150 years... Too many excellent features of this magisterial book can
be mentioned only in passing"

--Review of English Studies

"Saunders can rearrange the familiar landmarks of modernist prehistory to fit an entire tradition of imaginary autobiography that has been occluded or marginalised by the grand narrative of modernisms impersonality... its new readings of well-known authors and works are dazzling; its new
scholarship on unknown or little-known authors and works is fascinating. It revitalises the old literary-historical category of the transition (that is, from Victorian to modern, 1880-1920)"

--Australian Book Review

"Saunders' mode of presentation is very precise and sharp... a very important book for the discussion of the relationship between Modernism and Life-Writing."'

--Yata Keiji, Virginia Woolf Review

"A breathtakingly comprehensive study... Self Impression is an important book that will inspire further work on life-writing in the modern period... Recent publications provide other examples of books that call out for the application of Saunders's approach. The first volume of the complete
and authoritative edition of the Autobiography of Mark Twain has just been published... Once again, we are in the realm of autobiografiction that Saunders has so brilliantly mapped out."

--English Literature in Transition

"compendious in the best sense of the term... Saunders's knowledge of, and ability to critique with extraordinary critical sensitivity, the wide swathes of European literature is remarkable. Even more impressive is his handling of the intricate filaments which bind these texts together, which
make them constantly mutually allusive. This makes for a constant fascination... It is a measure of the depth of thinking in this book that the complexities of autobiographical modes and the relevance of the category of impressionism, while compelling in themselves, tend to recede and to be replaced
by larger questions. Who am I when I write? Who am I when I read? What is it like to be 'carried away' by a book?... These are questions which, as Saunders delicately puts it, have been raised in one form or another by de Man, Hartman, Derrida; but here they receive a rare depth and range of
articulation which puts flesh on the bones of abstract argument"

--David Punter, Modern

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Book Description Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 2013. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. I am aware that, once my pen intervenes, I can make whatever I like out of what I was. Paul Valery, Moi. Modernism is often characterized as a movement of impersonality; a rejection of auto/biography. But most of the major works of European modernism and postmodernism engage in very profound and central ways with questions about life-writing. Max Saunders explores the ways in which modern writers from the 1870s to the 1930s experimented with forms of life-writing - biography, autobiography, memoir, diary, journal - increasingly for the purposes of fiction. He identifies a wave of new hybrid forms from the late nineteenth century and uses the term autobiografiction - discovered in a surprisingly early essay of 1906 - to provide a fresh perspective on turn-of-the-century literature, and to propose a radically new literary history of Modernism. Saunders offers a taxonomy of the extraordinary variety of experiments with life-writing, demonstrating how they arose in the nineteenth century as the pressures of secularization and psychological theory disturbed the categories of biography and autobiography, in works by authors such as Pater, Ruskin, Proust, Mark Rutherford , George Gissing, and A. C. Benson. He goes on to look at writers experimenting further with autobiografiction as Impressionism turns into Modernism, juxtaposing detailed and vivacious readings of key Modernist texts by Joyce, Stein, Pound, and Woolf, with explorations of the work of other authors - including H. G. Wells, Henry James, Joseph Conrad, Ford Madox Ford, and Wyndham Lewis - whose experiments with life-writing forms are no less striking. The book concludes with a consideration of the afterlife of these fascinating experiments in the postmodern literature of Nabokov, Lessing, and Byatt. Self Impression sheds light on a number of significant but under-theorized issues; the meanings of autobiographical , the generic implications of literary autobiography, and the intriguing relation between autobiography and fiction in the period. Bookseller Inventory # AOP9780199657698

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Book Description Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 2013. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. I am aware that, once my pen intervenes, I can make whatever I like out of what I was. Paul Valery, Moi. Modernism is often characterized as a movement of impersonality; a rejection of auto/biography. But most of the major works of European modernism and postmodernism engage in very profound and central ways with questions about life-writing. Max Saunders explores the ways in which modern writers from the 1870s to the 1930s experimented with forms of life-writing - biography, autobiography, memoir, diary, journal - increasingly for the purposes of fiction. He identifies a wave of new hybrid forms from the late nineteenth century and uses the term autobiografiction - discovered in a surprisingly early essay of 1906 - to provide a fresh perspective on turn-of-the-century literature, and to propose a radically new literary history of Modernism. Saunders offers a taxonomy of the extraordinary variety of experiments with life-writing, demonstrating how they arose in the nineteenth century as the pressures of secularization and psychological theory disturbed the categories of biography and autobiography, in works by authors such as Pater, Ruskin, Proust, Mark Rutherford , George Gissing, and A. C. Benson. He goes on to look at writers experimenting further with autobiografiction as Impressionism turns into Modernism, juxtaposing detailed and vivacious readings of key Modernist texts by Joyce, Stein, Pound, and Woolf, with explorations of the work of other authors - including H. G. Wells, Henry James, Joseph Conrad, Ford Madox Ford, and Wyndham Lewis - whose experiments with life-writing forms are no less striking. The book concludes with a consideration of the afterlife of these fascinating experiments in the postmodern literature of Nabokov, Lessing, and Byatt. Self Impression sheds light on a number of significant but under-theorized issues; the meanings of autobiographical , the generic implications of literary autobiography, and the intriguing relation between autobiography and fiction in the period. Bookseller Inventory # AOP9780199657698

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