Autobiography by Linda Anderson

By Linda Anderson

This addition to the acclaimed New serious Idiom sequence bargains a wide-ranging advent to the research of autobiography and a ancient evaluate of autobiographical writing from St Augustine to the current day.Autobiography follows the real advancements in autobiographical feedback within the final thirty years, paying specific recognition to psychoanalytic, poststructualist and feminist techniques. Autobiography:* outlines the most theoretical matters and ideas of this zone* seems on the diverse varieties from confessions to narratives to memoirs to diaries* considers the most important writers of this custom* appears on the ideological assumptions in regards to the nature of the self.

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None of the ‘ancient’ writers before him, Weintraub argues, though they might have written autobiographically, had ‘opened up their souls in the inwardness of genuine autobiography’; moreover, Augustine creates a model, partly through his own understanding of the typicality of his experience, which will be influential for centuries to come (Weintraub 1978: 1, 45). What seems to be at stake in all these early critical approaches to Augustine’s Confessions is the definition of autobiography as a genre.

211). However, it is his human reader who in the end justifies his Confessions since it is for his sake that Augustine must set out his life in time as a history or as a narrative, in the form of words. As Jean Starobinski has argued: ‘The double address of the discourse – to God and to the human auditor – makes the truth discursive and the discourse true’ (Starobinski 1971a: 78). The story in all its literality can ultimately offer the only approach to its own desired dissolution into a higher and wordless form of truth.

Boswell, guarding against the feminization of his writing, caustically drew a distinction between the self-regarding gaze of the woman and the intense selfscrutiny of the male: ‘And as a lady adjusts her dress in the mirror, a man adjusts his character by looking at his journal’ (Boswell 1970: 898). Boswell here claims the journal as a serious, and (consequently) masculine, form of self-reflection. Yet by summoning up the mirror analogously, he also introduces a gap or division into his idea of the self between the surveying consciousness and the self surveyed.

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