Autobiographical Writing and British Literature 1783-1834

Hardcover | January 20, 2005

byJames Treadwell

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The word 'autobiography' is a late eighteenth-century coinage; yet by 1826 it was used as the title for a multi-volume anthology of self-writing, and in 1834 Thomas Carlyle wrote of 'these Autobiographical times of ours'. Over the course of those few decades, readers and writers came torecognize and name a new genre. This book is the first full study of the phenomenon, examining both the conditions and the practice of autobiographical writing in Romantic literature.Historians of autobiography have often pointed to the turn of the nineteenth century as a pivotal moment. In Rousseau and De Quincey's 'Confessions', Wordsworth's 'Prelude', and other canonical documents, it has been argued, self-writing begins to serve the purpose of expressing the individuality,autonomy, and interiority of the self. A more wide-ranging view of the actual state of autobiography at the time exposes this narrative as a misrepresentation. Self-writing does gain a new kind of prominence around 1800; not, however, because it articulates 'Romantic' ideologies of selfhood, butbecause it becomes a focus of scrutiny, and of contention. The decades of the Romantic period identified themselves as 'Autobiographical times' -- but did so anxiously. This book asks: what forms did that recognition and that anxiety take within the literary culture of the period? What didautobiography mean to Romantic readers and writers? How do autobiographical texts of the period reflect, express, and negotiate these conditions?As well as reading a wide variety of those documents, with single chapters devoted to works by Coleridge, Byron, and Lamb, Treadwell examines writing on and around autobiography: essays, reviews, and other forms of commentary. By preserving a continuous relation between the texts and theircontexts, this book offers the first proper study of what is actually meant by 'Romantic autobiography'.

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The word 'autobiography' is a late eighteenth-century coinage; yet by 1826 it was used as the title for a multi-volume anthology of self-writing, and in 1834 Thomas Carlyle wrote of 'these Autobiographical times of ours'. Over the course of those few decades, readers and writers came torecognize and name a new genre. This book is the...

James Treadwell is a writer living in London.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.78 inPublished:January 20, 2005Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199262977

ISBN - 13:9780199262977

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Table of Contents

Prescription1. The Rise of 'Autobiography'2. The Case of Rousseau3. Autobiography and the Literary Public SpherePrescription/Practice4. Autobiography and Publication5. 'Biographia Literaria'6. Autobiographical Transactions7. 'Childe Harold' Canto III8. 'Elia'Bibliography

Editorial Reviews

"A closely reasoned book."--Elizabeth Helsinger, Studies in English Literature