Consuming Autobiographies: Reading and Writing the Self in Post-war France (Legenda Main)

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9781905981106: Consuming Autobiographies: Reading and Writing the Self in Post-war France (Legenda Main)

Since 1975, French literary writing has been marked by an autobiographical turn which has seen authors increasingly often tap into the vein of what the French term écriture de soi. This coincides, paradoxically, with the 'death of autobiography', as these authors self-consciously distance themselves and their writings from conventional autobiography, founding a 'nouvelle autobiographie' where the very possibility of autobiographical expression is questioned. In the first book-length study in English to address this phenomenon, Claire Boyle sheds a new light on this hostility toward autobiography through a series of ground-breaking studies of estrangement in autobiographical works by major post-war authors Nathalie Sarraute, Georges Perec, Jean Genet and Hélène Cixous. She identifies autobiography as a site of conflict between writer and reader, as authors struggle to assert the unknowableness of their identity in the face of a readership resolutely desiring privileged knowledge. Autobiography emerges as a deeply troubling genre for authors, with the reader as an antagonistic consumer of the autobiographical self.

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by Claire Boyle

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This is a thoroughly engaging and intelligent work, updating existing scholarship and opening up new avenues of inquiry'. (Jane Hiddleston Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly 31.4, Fall 2008)

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