Touching the World: Reference in Autobiography

Princeton University Press
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Paul John Eakin's earlier work Fictions in Autobiography is a key text in autobiography studies. In it he proposed that the self that finds expression in autobiography is in fundamental ways a kind of fictive construct, a fiction articulated in a fiction. In this new book Eakin turns his attention to what he sees as the defining assumption of autobiography: that the story of the self does refer to a world of biographical and historical fact. Here he shows that people write autobiography not in some private realm of the autonomous self but rather in strenuous engagement with the pressures that life in culture entails. In so demonstrating, he offers fresh readings of autobiographies by Roland Barthes, Nathalie Sarraute, William Maxwell, Henry James, Ronald Fraser, Richard Rodriguez, Henry Adams, Patricia Hampl, John Updike, James McConkey, and Lillian Hellman. In the introduction Eakin makes a case for reopening the file on reference in autobiography, and in the first chapter he establishes the complexity of the referential aesthetic of the genre, the intricate interplay of fact and fiction in such texts. In subsequent chapters he explores some of the major contexts of reference in autobiography: the biographical, the social and cultural, the historical, and finally, underlying all the rest, the somatic and temporal dimensions of the lived experience of identity. In his discussion of contemporary theories of the self, Eakin draws especially on cultural anthropology and developmental psychology.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Apr 15, 1992
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Pages
268
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ISBN
9781400820641
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Criticism / American / General
Literary Criticism / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Reginald Rose
A landmark American drama that inspired a classic film and a Broadway revival—featuring an introduction by David Mamet

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For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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