Autobiography (The New Critical Idiom) by Linda Anderson

By Linda Anderson

It is a positive technique to get what's going with autobiography as a style and an procedure.

Especially robust in bringing the reader in the course of the ancients and into the postmoderns.

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Extra resources for Autobiography (The New Critical Idiom)

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SERIAL SELVES: JAMES BOSWELL AND HESTER THRALE Bunyan attributed an important role to his wives in Grace Abounding: it is his first wife who begins to awaken his ‘desire to religion’, and passes on to him important religious texts which had been left her by her father (Bunyan 1962: 8). He makes the parting from (presumably his second) wife and children when he is imprisoned one of the supreme tests of his religious faith. However, this does little more than confirm women in a subsidiary position, by making them aids, hindrances or witnesses to Bunyan’s own progress towards salvation.

These are also times when Rousseau is free to absorb the outer into the inner world, when the subject is ‘master’, and when the ‘plot’, which is necessarily an ongoing story of encounters and frustrations, is temporarily suspended. Yet if Rousseau derives most happiness from his own company, when he places himself at a distance or excludes himself from society, it is also, in part, because he already feels himself to be excluded. Socially he is a poor man, without status or family to protect him.

Nor that the tears that Augustine failed to shed at his mother’s death – ‘when the body was carried out for burial, I went and returned without a tear’ (Augustine 1961: 201) – should well out of the text at every turn. Indeed tears carry the body back into the text in a melancholy, abject streaming. The paradox of Augustine’s text, for all its centrality in establishing the unified, transcendent ‘I’ of autobiographical tradition, may be that for the ‘I’ to see and to turn its gaze self-consciously both inwards and upwards, it must first be blinded by tears, it must reveal its dependence on the very body it abjures.

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