Max Saunders

in Self Impression

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780199579761
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722882 | DOI:

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This conclusion argues that auto/biography is shadowed by the alter ego of scepticism, whether directed at the reality or intelligibility of selves; their representability; or the adequacy of the available forms of representation. It summarizes the resulting positions of anti‐subjectivity and autobiograficton, arguing that the sceptical engagements with life‐writing display a markedly performative dimension, using theoretical concepts from Judith Butler and Sidonie Smith. The notion of the performative reintroduces the ideas of fictionality and creativity to the heart of the autobiographic project; and to that extent could be said to inscribe even in formal autobiography some of the key qualities discovered here in more hybrid works, of ‘autobiografiction’ and imaginary writing. A literary autobiography's relation to a fictional oeuvre is discussed as working according to Derrida's logic of the supplement, with a comparable effect: posing autobiography as outside fiction, but infiltrating the autobiographical into the fiction, and thus reciprocally, the fictional into the autobiography. What such arguments bring out is how autobiography and fiction, while posed as mutually exclusive, are in fact profoundly interdependent, and constitute throughout the last two centuries a system of modern self‐representation which might itself be termed ‘autobiografiction’.

Keywords: auto/biography; scepticism; self; representability; form; anti‐subjectivity; anti‐autobiography; autobiografiction; life‐writing; performative; performativity; Judith Butler; Sidonie Smith; fictionality; formal autobiography; literary autobiography; Oeuvre; Derrida; supplement; modern self‐representation

Chapter.  14712 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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