By Ann Jefferson
This ebook takes a clean examine the family among literature and biography via tracing the heritage in their connections via 300 years of French literature. the place to begin for this historical past is the eighteenth century whilst the time period "biography" first entered the French language and whilst the be aware "literature" started to gather its smooth feel of writing marked via a cultured personality. Arguing that the assumption of literature is inherently open to revision and contestation, Ann Jefferson examines the best way biographically-orientated texts were engaged in wondering the definition of literature. whilst, she tracks the evolving kinds of biographical writing in French tradition, and proposes a reappraisal of biography in phrases not just of its types, but in addition of its functions.Although Ann Jefferson's booklet has strong theoretical implications for either biography and the literary, it truly is at first a historical past, providing a finished new account of the advance of French literature via this twin specialise in the query of literature and at the kin among literature and biography. It bargains unique readings of significant authors and texts within the mild of those issues, starting with Rousseau and finishing with "life-writing" modern authors resembling Pierre Michon and Jacques Roubaud. different authors mentioned contain 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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The language of ﬁction and free-ﬂoating eloquence constantly threaten to undermine his spiritual quest, and it is vital for him to distinguish his own enterprise from these quasi-literary components. Augustine’s autobiographical narrative requires the exclusion of the literary in order to pursue its overriding purpose, which is the demonstration of divine creation and mercy, whose end result will be felt in the reader’s own life. ‘Men are a race curious to know of other men’s lives, but slothful to correct their own’, he acknowledges (p.
The entry further notes that ‘M. l’Abbé Chastelain employed this word to avoid using a periphrasis too often, but it is not in common usage’. ’⁴¹ Such life-stories were by no means conﬁned to writers; and what is signiﬁcant about these biographies in the literary context is not their challenge to the notion of the literary, but their role in deﬁning and legitimating ³⁸ Kevin Pask, The Emergence of the English Author: Scripting the Life of the Poet in Early Modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp.
Renaissance (secular) culture was concerned with exemplarity in ways that extended well beyond the particular instances of ‘lives’, since history and poetry were also seen as sources of moral example. But whatever the source, the effects of a given example were always to be measured in the life of the individual reader. ’¹ ‘Lives’ were nevertheless a principal fund of moral example, and Plutarch, being the chronicler of public virtue in the lives of great men, was a recurrent point of reference in discussions of exemplarity.