Item Details

Creating Identity in the Victorian Fictional Autobiography

Heidi L. Pennington
Format
Book
Published
Columbia : University of Missouri Press, [2018]
Language
English
ISBN
9780826221575, 0826221572
Summary
"This is the first book-length study of the fictional autobiography, a subgenre that is at once widely recognizable and rarely examined as a literary form with its own history and dynamics of interpretation. Heidi L. Pennington shows that the narrative form and genre expectations associated with the fictional autobiography in the Victorian period engages readers in a sustained meditation on the fictional processes that construct selfhood both in and beyond the text. Through close readings of Jane Eyre, David Copperfield, and other well-known examples of the subgenre, Pennington shows how the Victorian fictional autobiography subtly but persistently illustrates that all identities are fictions. Despite the subgenre's radical implications regarding the nature of personal identity, fictional autobiographies were popular in their own time and continue to inspire devotion in readers. This study sheds new light on what makes this subgenre so compelling, up to and including in the present historical moment of precipitous social and technological change. As we continue to grapple with the existential question of what determines "who we really are," this book explores the risks and rewards of embracing conscious acts of fictional self-production in an unstable world"--
"This is the first book-length study of the significance of the fictional autobiography in the Victorian understanding of selfhood. Jane Eyre, Villette, David Copperfield, Esther's portions of Bleak House, and other fictional autobiographies of the era subtly but persistently illustrate that all identities are fictions. These works ask readers to rethink the concept of personal identity by showing that our impressions of personal authenticity derive from our own acts of narrative creation. By dramatizing the process of fictional self-making and implicating the reader therein, the fictional autobiography constitutes an important link in the intellectual history of selfhood from pre-Victorian times to the present. In fact, Pennington argues, postmodernism's claims about the constructedness of personal identity represent not a break with traditional thinking about the self, but rather the culmination of it"--
Contents
  • Introduction : Fictional Self-Making in a Changing World
  • The Victorian Fictional Autobiography in Context : Fiction, Reference, and Reader Expectations
  • The Author and the Reader : The Individual and/as Narrative Community
  • Domestic Interiors and the Fictionality of the Domestic : Esther Summerson Writes Home
  • "No True Home" : Difficult Domesticity and Controlling Collaboration in David Copperfield and Villette
  • Coda : Fiction and Selfhood in the Twenty-First Century.
Description
x, 229 pages ; 24 cm
Notes
Includes bibliographical references (pages 175-214) and index.
Technical Details

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    a| Introduction : Fictional Self-Making in a Changing World -- The Victorian Fictional Autobiography in Context : Fiction, Reference, and Reader Expectations -- The Author and the Reader : The Individual and/as Narrative Community -- Domestic Interiors and the Fictionality of the Domestic : Esther Summerson Writes Home -- "No True Home" : Difficult Domesticity and Controlling Collaboration in David Copperfield and Villette -- Coda : Fiction and Selfhood in the Twenty-First Century.
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    a| "This is the first book-length study of the significance of the fictional autobiography in the Victorian understanding of selfhood. Jane Eyre, Villette, David Copperfield, Esther's portions of Bleak House, and other fictional autobiographies of the era subtly but persistently illustrate that all identities are fictions. These works ask readers to rethink the concept of personal identity by showing that our impressions of personal authenticity derive from our own acts of narrative creation. By dramatizing the process of fictional self-making and implicating the reader therein, the fictional autobiography constitutes an important link in the intellectual history of selfhood from pre-Victorian times to the present. In fact, Pennington argues, postmodernism's claims about the constructedness of personal identity represent not a break with traditional thinking about the self, but rather the culmination of it"-- c| Provided by publisher.
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