By Ann Jefferson
This ebook takes a clean examine the family among literature and biography through tracing the historical past in their connections via 300 years of French literature. the start line for this heritage is the eighteenth century whilst the time period "biography" first entered the French language and while the be aware "literature" started to gather its smooth feel of writing marked by way of a cultured personality. Arguing that the assumption of literature is inherently open to revision and contestation, Ann Jefferson examines the best way biographically-orientated texts were engaged in wondering the definition of literature. even as, she tracks the evolving sorts of biographical writing in French tradition, and proposes a reappraisal of biography in phrases not just of its kinds, but in addition of its functions.Although Ann Jefferson's ebook has robust theoretical implications for either biography and the literary, it's at the beginning a background, supplying a complete new account of the improvement of French literature via this twin concentrate on the query of literature and at the family among literature and biography. It deals unique readings of significant authors and texts within the mild of those issues, starting with Rousseau and finishing with "life-writing" modern authors reminiscent of Pierre Michon and Jacques Roubaud. different authors mentioned comprise Mme de St?el, Victor Hugo, Sainte-Beuve, Barbey d'Aurevilly, Baudelaire, Nerval, Mallarm?, Schwob, Proust, Gide, Leiris, Sartre, Genet, Barthes, and Roger Laporte.
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176–98. , Les Vies des hommes illustres, trans. Jacques Amyot , ed. Gérard Walter, 2 vols. (1951; Bibliothèque de la Pléiade; Paris: Gallimard, 1985), vol. i, pp. 566–7 [p. 245]. ³ Both Cruserius, the Latin translator of Plutarch (whose translation appeared in 1561), and Jacques Amyot, the French translator (whose ﬁrst edition was published in 1559), mention the principle of ‘doing the like’ as a distinguishing feature of the lived example. ’⁴ This tendency towards imitation, which the example of a life inspires, is enhanced by two further characteristics of the ‘life’, on which Amyot also comments.
It would take a lot to hang an entire argument on sheer deﬁance, and, as it happens, there are a number of substantive factors that can be marshalled to provide a starting point for this line of attack. The ﬁrst of these—and we shall see many cases discussed in this book—is that it very frequently turns out that a condemnation of biography (such as the ones I cited at the beginning of this Introduction) is a condemnation of a particular version or application of biography. Authors who appear to be ‘against’ biography prove on closer scrutiny to have recourse to other conceptions of the practice, which they invoke precisely in order to engage with questions of literariness.
29–43. 30 Lives and the Invention of ‘Literature’ the introduction of a developmental conception of literature towards the end of the eighteenth century made it possible to see literature as having a life of its own, analogous to the life of the individual portrayed in biography. The three chapters that follow will therefore set out these different tactics as they emerged in the mutually deﬁning relations between biography and literature before their full-scale manifestations in the nineteenth century.
Biography and the Question of Literature in France by Ann Jefferson