Autobiography and Narrative Resilience

Auster in? Auster out: Lifewriting as a Game? A novelist turns into an editor for the purposes of a unique experiment in lifewriting …




Language, Experience, Self, Lebensform


Life as the touchpoint between language and silence, the said and the unsaid. Take a famous writer who offers his readers to take part in an exercise in lifewriting? Based on life’s ability to be condensed into an atom of experience, Paul Auster’s collection of stories tackles the problem of preserving reality for readers outside this experience. For Wittgenstein the linguistic cradle shapes each person’s life, for themselves and for others. The stories show that people spontaneously turn their lives into narratives, often relying on unspoken data. Here lies the life / experience distinction : experience becomes a metaphor making life understandable. Secondly, whatever is alive is humanized; conversely, time structures and the social context are constant props of reality. Surprisingly, acausal connections (e.g. coincidences) are a recurring feature in lifewriting — a way of transcending space and time. Wittgenstein’s concept of lebensform (what is said about life initially and eventually forms your life itself) explains why the stories make sense. Lifewriting means discovering one’s freedom, which ultimately raises the issue of the subject : the one who is free ? the one who has found oneself?

Author Biography

Michel-Guy Gouverneur, Université d’Amiens, France

Two simultaneous activities: teaching English language and literature; translating philosophical texts.

Research: Michel-Guy Gouverneur has worked 1) on establishing a connection between ethics and rhetorics (esp. how do virtues and figures relate); 2) on defining ambiguity (esp. how to keep it in translation); 3) on using translation difficulties as indicative of deep-seated logical inconsistencies (when statement A1 does not translate into A2, probably because, beneath the surface, a nexus of statements  involves ill-associated concepts).

Functions: Taught and lectured in: U.K. (Sheffield Univ.), Algerian Republic, France Normandy, Vendée (postgrad. sections: English lang., international trade), Angers (Univ.: translation studies, comparative literature), Nantes (postgrad. sections: English lang., applied arts & design, electronics). Teacher in secondary classes, then post-High School sections; university lectures (translation theory, comparative literature). Research officer for four years in a French consulting firm specialized in cultural projects.

Academic: Ph.D. (thèse) in English-language philosophy (Paris-Sorbonne, Prof. J.-T. Desanti: John Dewey and pragmatic philosophy) ; Ph.D. (thèse)  in  Philosophy and Literature (Amiens UPJV, Prof. Sandra Laugier: G.E. Moore, Bloomsbury Circle).

Born 1951. Retired in 2017.

Apart from several major translations published (L’EXPÉRIENCE ET LA NATURE, traduction de EXPERIENCE AND NATURE de John DEWEY, L’Harmattan. Paris, 2014 ; and PRINCIPIA ETHICA by G.-E. MOORE, Presses Universitaires de France, Paris, 1996), M.-G. Gouverneur has written on Balzac, Baudelaire, J. Dewey, Diderot Ralph Ellison, Roger Fry, Mallarmé, G.-E. Moore, Wittgenstein, Virginia Woolf. No properly literary text published as yet.





Autobiography and Narrative Resilience