A Demythologized Auto/Biography: Beginnings and Evolution of Metabiography in Feminine Postmodern Fiction
Keywords:Metabiography, auto/biography, Postmodern, Women’s Fiction.
The postmodern features of English fiction like fragmentation and metafictionality seem to find an equivalent in life writing and metabiography. Such instances of metabiography either expose the protagonist in the process of writing a biography or memoir, and/or include extracts of life writings which are textually incorporated in their original format. The aim of this paper is first to explore the structural characteristics of metabiography and its evolution from a theme to a structure/form, through Henry James’s The Aspern Papers (1888), A.S. Byatt’s The Biographer’s Tale (2000) and Marina Warner’s fiction. As Richard Holmes explains, “the boundaries between fact and fiction have become controversial and perilous” (16), boundaries which are crossed by Warner and Byatt, both postmodern female novelists who rely on the plurality of voices and textual collage instead of the conventional omniscient narrator and the linear narrative represented by James. Second, the focus will be on the strategies combining the aesthetic with the ethical, or “the political desire to write the histories of the marginalised, the forgotten, the unrecorded” (Byatt On Histories 10-11) through metabiographical autobiographies and diaries in Warner’s Indigo and The Lost Father. The life writing themes treated in these novels are also studied in relation to the modernist and postmodernist views of reality, history and representation which they reflect.
This article was submitted to the European Journal of Life Writing on April 27th 2016, and published on February 21st 2016.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).