Sam Ferguson's Diaries Real and Fictional in Twentieth-century French Writing
Keywords:Diaries, book review
Over the last two decades, Philippe Lejeune’s research has established diary-writing as maybe the only form of life-writing immune from panfictionalism. In an oft-quoted article (Lejeune 2007), the French theorist famously expressed his fiction and autofiction fatigue (‘[…] j’ai créé “antifiction” par agacement devant “autofiction”, le mot et la chose’, 3) and set up an insurmountable ontological barrier between autobiographies and diaries: ‘autobiography has fallen under the spell of fiction, diaries are enamored with truth’ (‘[…] l’autobiographie vit sous le charme de la fiction, le journal a le béguin pour la verité’, 3).1 In his more recent book, Aux Origines du Journal Personnel: France, 1750–1815 (2016), Lejeune not only reasserted this privileged connection between diaries and truth/reality—not unlike Barthes’s claim in La Chambre claire that photography cannot be distinguished from its referent— but went as far as removing diaries from the field of literary studies as, according to him, they do not constitute a literary genre (or only as an epiphenomenon). In Diaries Real and Fictional in Twentieth-Century French Writing, Sam Ferguson opts for an altogether different approach.
Copyright (c) 2020 Arnaud Schmitt
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