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By Paul John Eakin

Investigating autobiographical writing of Mary McCarthy, Henry James, Jean-Paul Sartre, Saul Friedlander, and Maxine Hong Kingston, this booklet argues that autobiographical fact isn't a hard and fast yet an evolving content material in a strategy of self-creation. additional, Paul John Eakin contends, the self on the middle of all autobiography is unavoidably fictive. Professor Eakin exhibits that the autobiographical impulse is just a unique type of reflexive cognizance: from a developmental standpoint, the autobiographical act is a method of self-invention consistently practiced first in dwelling and merely ultimately, and infrequently, in writing.

Originally released in 1988.

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Extra resources for Fictions in Autobiography: Studies in the Art of Self-Invention (Princeton Legacy Library)

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James Olney (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1980), p. 273. Hereafter this volume will be referred to as Autobiography. , Burton Pike, "Time in Autobiography," Comparative Literature, 28 (1976): "The past does not exist" (337). 9 MARY M C CARTHY ity of investigating the author's motivation for adopting an autobiographical stance in the first place. On the other, the consequences of the reader's identification of the author's stance as such have been explored through case studies of individual reader responses and through literary historical analysis of the institutional existence of genres.

18 On the whole, psychobiographers devote relatively little attention to their subjects' performance as autobiographers. 19 To be sure, a good many biographers have affirmed the therapeutic value of the autobiographical act, yet this notion has not been systematically demonstrated in particular cases. The most promising contributions here have tended to be 18 Freud, "A Childhood Recollection from Dicbtung und Wahrhett," 1917; rpt. in Collected Papers, ed. Joan Riviere, 5 vols. (New York: Basic Books, 1959), IV, 357-67; Levi, "The 'Mental Crisis' of John Stuart Mill," Psycho­ analytic Review, 32 (1945), 86-101; Rosenzweig, "The Ghost of Henry James: A Study in Thematic Apperception," Character and Personality, 12 (1943-1944), 79-100; Bushman, "On the Uses of Psychology: Conflict and Conciliation in Benjamin Franklin," History and Theory, 5 (1966), 225-40.

9, 15, 17, 15. John N. Morris first drew my attention to Rees. MARY M C CARTHY Let us grant the very concept of the self as a fiction, let us speak in the French way of the textuality of the self. After such knowledge, why do authors still indulge in, and readers still consent to, a fiction of this kind? 23 What we would want to understand is the motivation for writing autobiographical narrative, which is doubtless par­ allel to the motivation for reading it. How does making some­ thing up—a self, a text—answer to the search for self-knowledge?

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