By Ann Jefferson
This booklet takes a clean examine the kin among literature and biography through tracing the heritage in their connections via 300 years of French literature. the start line for this background is the eighteenth century whilst the time period "biography" first entered the French language and while the notice "literature" started to collect its glossy feel of writing marked by way of a cultured personality. Arguing that the assumption of literature is inherently open to revision and contestation, Ann Jefferson examines the way biographically-orientated texts were engaged in wondering the definition of literature. while, she tracks the evolving kinds of biographical writing in French tradition, and proposes a reappraisal of biography in phrases not just of its varieties, but additionally of its functions.Although Ann Jefferson's e-book has robust theoretical implications for either biography and the literary, it really is before everything a heritage, providing a finished new account of the improvement of French literature via this twin concentrate on the query of literature and at the family among literature and biography. It deals unique readings of significant authors and texts within the gentle of those issues, starting with Rousseau and finishing with "life-writing" modern authors corresponding to Pierre Michon and Jacques Roubaud. different authors mentioned comprise Mme de St?el, Victor Hugo, Sainte-Beuve, Barbey d'Aurevilly, Baudelaire, Nerval, Mallarm?, Schwob, Proust, Gide, Leiris, Sartre, Genet, Barthes, and Roger Laporte.
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Extra info for Biography and the Question of Literature in France
Mayer and D. R. ), The Rhetorics of Life-Writing in Early Modern Europe: Forms of Biography from Cassandra Fedele to Louis XIV (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995), which also contains a convenient survey (pp. 12–17). ¹² As far as France is concerned, a similar phenomenon of ‘lives’ of men of letters began to emerge in the course of the sixteenth century. ¹³ Not only did this serve to raise the man of letters to the rank of ‘king within his own domain’,¹⁴ but it also made the ‘life’ into an integral part of the work: as I mentioned in the Introduction above, many lives were published as prefaces, either to individual works, or to collected works.
A third element of support for the association of biography with literature, and which follows in part from the second, concerns the way in which, at least since the seventeenth century, authorial biography has been seen as a necessary form not merely of recognition, but of legitimation, of the literary text. , p. 11. ³⁶ See Mary R. Lefkowitz, The Lives of the Greek Poets (London: Duckworth, 1981). , Dits et écrits, ed. Daniel Defert, Franc¸ois Ewald, and Jacques Legrange, 4 vols. (Paris: Gallimard, 1994), vol.
I shall discuss Rousseau’s comment more fully in Ch. 2 below. ⁶ Jules Michelet, ‘Examen des Vies des hommes illustres’, in Plutarque, Vies parallèles, trans. Robert Flacelière and Émile Chambry, ed. Jean Sirinelli (Bouquins; Paris: Robert Laffont, 2001), vol. i, pp. lxix–lxxxiv (p. lxxiii). ⁷ Saint Augustine, The Confessions of St. Augustine, trans. F. J. Sheed (1943; Spiritual Masters; London: Sheed & Ward, 1984), p. 63. ) Moreover, his concerns about the way he writes involve a desire to distinguish between the use of rhetoric for false praise, or ﬁction, and the ‘good’ eloquence he observed in Ambrose, for instance.