Chapter

Autobiografiction: Stephen Reynolds and A. C. Benson<sup>1</sup>

Max Saunders

in Self Impression

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780199579761
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722882 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199579761.003.0005
Autobiografiction: Stephen Reynolds and A. C. Benson1

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This chapter develops the preceding one's account of autobiographical writing which swerves into fiction. It explores the hybrid form identified in Stephen Reynolds's 1906 essay ‘Autobiografiction.’ Reynolds's arguments are examined in detail. The significance of the body of work he identifies, fusing spiritual experience, fictional narrative, and the essay, is discussed in relation to a growing resistance to conventional forms of auto/biography. One of Reynolds's chief examples is A. C. Benson. Two of his works — The House of Quiet and The Thread of Gold — are analysed in detail, with particular attention to his elaborate play with the forms of life‐writing, and with pseudonymity and posthumousness. Benson's approach to the spiritual through autobiografiction is contextualized in terms of secularization, psychical research, and the emergence of psycho‐analysis. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the trope (deriving from the Nietzsche–Wilde/subjectivist views outlined at the start) that fiction is the best autobiography; and by considering the light the concept of autobiografiction can shed on modernism.

Keywords: autobiografiction; Stephen Reynolds; A. C. Benson; subjectivism; The House of Quiet; The Thread of Gold; spiritual; spiritualism; secularization; psychical Research; posthumousness; Philippe Lejeune; modernism

Chapter.  21605 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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