This volume offers sixteen original essays that attest to the extraordinary inventiveness and range of modernist autobiography. It examines the ways modernist writers chose to tell their life stories, with particular attention to forms, venues, modes of address, and degrees of truthfulness. The essays are grouped around a set of rubrics that isolate the distinctive character and shared preoccupations of modernist life-writings: questions of ancestry and tradition that foreground the modernists' troubled relation to their immediate familial as well as cultural past; their emergence as writers whose experiences found expression in untraditional and singular forms; their sense of themselves as survivors of personal and historical traumas; and their burdens as self-chroniclers of loss, especially of self-loss. It will appeal especially to scholars and students of literary modernism and English literature more generally.
Maria DiBattista is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Princeton University. She has written extensively on modern literature and film, and her books include First Love: The Affections of Modern Fiction; Fast Talking Dames, a study of American film comedy of the thirties and forties; Imagining Virginia Woolf: An Experiment in Critical Biography; and Novel Characters: A Genealogy. Emily O. Wittman, Associate Professor of English at the University of Alabama, has published widely on literary modernism, translation studies, and autobiography. She is co-editor (with Maria DiBattista) of The Cambridge Companion to Autobiography (Cambridge University Press, 2014) and co-translator (with Chet Wiener) of Felix Guattari's Soft Subversions: Texts and Interviews 1977-1985 (2009).
Introduction Maria DiBattista and Emily O. Wittman; Part I. Ancestries: 1. Edmund Gosse's Father and Son: a nervous history Francis O'Gorman; 2. The 'fascination of what I loathed': science and self in W. B. Yeats's autobiographies Ronan McDonald; 3. Writing at sea: Conrad's Personal Record of 'my life', and 'my two lives' Michael Levenson; 4. Two Henrys: James and Adams as autobiographers Lee Mitchell; 5. Spaces of time: Virginia Woolf's life-writing Elizabeth Abel; Part II. Emerging: 6. Travel writing as modernist autobiography: Evelyn Waugh's Labels and the writing personality Jonathan Greenberg; 7. Queer autobiographical masquerade: Stein, Toklas, and others Barbara Will; 8. Elizabeth Bowen and modernist autobiography Allan Hepburn; 9. 'Leaving the Territory': Ralph Ellison's backward glance Marc Conner; Part III. Surviving: 10. Touching subliterate lives: Indian soldiers, the Great War, and life-writing Santanu Das; 11. The last of Katherine Mansfield Jay Dickson; 12. T. S. Eliot's impersonal correspondence Max Saunders; 13. The real Hem Maria DiBattista; Part IV. Disappearing: 14. 'Death Before the Fact': posthumous autobiography in Jean Rhys's Good Morning, Midnight and Smile Please Emily O. Wittman; 15. Abstraction, impersonality, abstraction Robert Caserio; 16. Name after name: Beckett's secret autobiography Michael Wood.