On Life-Writing

On Life-Writing

By: Zachary Leader (editor)Paperback

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'Life-writing' is a generic term meant to encompass a range of writings about lives or parts of lives, or which provide materials out of which lives or parts of lives are composed. These writings include not only memoir, autobiography, biography, diaries, autobiographical fiction, and biographical fiction, but letters, writs, wills, written anecdotes, depositions, marginalia, lyric poems, scientific and historical writings, and digital forms (including blogs, tweets, Facebook entries). On Life-Writing offers a sampling of approaches to the study of life-writing, introducing readers to something of the range of forms the term encompasses, their changing fortunes and features, the notions of 'life,' 'self' and 'story' which help to explain these changing fortunes and features, recent attempts to group forms, the permeability of the boundaries between forms, the moral problems raised by life-writing in all forms, but particularly in fictional forms, and the relations between life-writing and history, life-writing and psychoanalysis, life-writing and philosophy. The essays mostly focus on individual instances rather than fields, whether historical, theoretical or generic. Generalizations are grounded in particulars. For example, the role of the 'life-changing encounter,' a frequent trope in literary life-writing, is pondered by Hermione Lee through an account of a much-storied first meeting between the philosopher Isaiah Berlin and the Russian poet Anna Akhmatova; James Shapiro examines the history of the 'cradle to grave' life-narrative, as well as the potential distortions it breeds, by focusing on Shakespeare biography, in particular attempts to explain Shakespeare's so-called 'lost years'.

About Author

Zachary Leader grew up in California but has lived in Britain for over forty years. He was educated at Northwestern University, Trinity College, Cambridge, and Harvard. In addition to teaching at Roehampton, he has taught at Caltech and the University of Chicago. He is the author of Reading Blake's Songs, Writer's Block, Revision and Romantic Authorship, The Life of Kingsley Amis, a finalist for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Biography, and The Life of Saul Bellow: To Fame and Fortune 1915-1964, volume one of a two-volume biography. He has edited three volumes for OUP: On Modern British Fiction, Percy Bysshe Shelley: The Major Works (with Michael O'Neill) and The Movement Reconsidered. Leader is also general editor of the Oxford History of Life-Writing, a projected seven-volume series. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.


Zachary Leader: Introduction 1: James Shapiro: Unravelling Shakespeare's Life 2: Michael Dobson: A Boy from Stratford, 1769-1916: Shakespearean Biography and Romantic Nationalism 3: William St. Clair: Romantic Biography: Conveying Personality, Intimacy, and Authenticity in an Age of Ink and Paper 4: Alison Booth: Prosopography and Crowded Attention in Old and New Media 5: Adam Foulds: Writing Real People 6: Janis Freedman Bellow: Rosamund and Ravelstein: The Discandying of a Creator's Confection 7: Hermione Lee: 'From Memory': Literary Encounters and Life-Writing 8: Karen A. Winstead: Medieval Life-Writing and the Strange Case of Margery Kempe Of Lynn (c.1373-c.1440) 9: Alan Stewart: The Materiality of Early Modern Life-Writing: The Case of Richard Stonley 10: Joyce E. Chaplin: The Autobiographies of Benjamin Franklin 11: Blake Morrison: The Worst Thing I Ever Did: The Contemporary Confessional Memoir 12: J. David Velleman: The Rights to a Life 13: Patrick Hayes: Human 2.0? Life-Writing In the Digital Age 14: Laura Marcus: Autobiography and Psychoanalysis 15: Galen Strawson: The Unstoried Life Index

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780198816447
  • Format: Paperback
  • Number Of Pages: 336
  • ID: 9780198816447
  • weight: 420
  • ISBN10: 0198816448

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