Biography and the Question of Literature in France

Hardcover | February 4, 2007

byAnn Jefferson

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This book takes a fresh look at the relations between literature and biography by tracing the history of their connections through three hundred years of French literature. The starting point for this history is the eighteenth century when the term 'biography' first entered the French languageand when the word 'literature' began to acquire its modern sense of writing marked by an aesthetic character. Arguing that the idea of literature is inherently open to revision and contestation, Ann Jefferson examines the way in which biographically-orientated texts have been engaged in questioningand revising definitions of literature. At the same time, she tracks the evolving forms of biographical writing in French culture, and proposes a reappraisal of biography in terms not only of its forms, but also of its functions. Although Ann Jefferson's book has powerful theoretical implications for both biography and the literary, it is first and foremost a history, offering a comprehensive new account of the development of French literature through this dual focus on the question of literature and on the relationsbetween literature and biography. It offers original readings of major authors and texts in the light of these concerns, beginning with Rousseau and ending with 'life-writing' contemporary authors such as Pierre Michon and Jacques Roubaud. Other authors discussed include Mme de Stael, Victor Hugo,Sainte-Beuve, Barbey d'Aurevilly, Baudelaire, Nerval, Mallarme, Schwob, Proust, Gide, Leiris, Sartre, Genet, Barthes, and Roger Laporte.

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This book takes a fresh look at the relations between literature and biography by tracing the history of their connections through three hundred years of French literature. The starting point for this history is the eighteenth century when the term 'biography' first entered the French languageand when the word 'literature' began to acq...

Ann Jefferson is a Fellow of New College, Oxford and lecturer in French in the Faculty of Modern Languages. Her previous books include :The Nouveau Roman and the Poetics of Fiction, Reading Realism in Stendhal and Nathalie Sarraute, and Fiction and Theory: Questions of Difference.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:438 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 1.26 inPublished:February 4, 2007Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199270848

ISBN - 13:9780199270842

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Table of Contents

IntroductionPart I: Lives and the Invention of Literature1. Literature and the Use of Lives: A Prehistory2. Rousseau's Life-Story and the Experience of Literature3. Literary History and the Biography of Literature: Madame de Stael and Victor HugoPart II: The Nineteenth Century and the Culture of Biography4. Biographical Business in the Century of Biography: Dictionaries and the Press5. Biography Reclaimed: Gautier, Verlaine, and Mallarme and the Biographical irecueil/i6. Sainte-Beuve: Biography and the Invention of Literary CriticismPart III: Poetry and the Life of the Poet7. Hugo's iLes Contemplations/i: Life, Death, and the Expansion of Poetry8. Baudelaire: Life and the Production of PoetryPart IV: Biography into Literature9. The Virtues of Marginality in Nerval's iIllumines/i10. Biography and Literary Principle: Marcel Schwob's iVies imaginaires/iPart V: Inwardness, Experience, and the Turn to Fiction11. Romancing Lives: Literary Creativity in the 1920s12. Proust and the Lives of the Artists13. Gide: Autobiography, Fiction, and the Literature of ExperiencePart VI: Acts of Literature: The Sacred, and the Writer's Life14. Michel Leiris: Autobiography and the Sacred15. Sartre and Biography: Existential Acts and the Desacralization of LiteraturePart VII: Heroes, Saints, and Generic Anachronisms16. Genet's ichant d'amour/i and the Lives of the Heroes17. Pierre Michon's Lives of the SaintsPart VIII: The Writing Life18. Vocation, Regime, and the Production of Literature: Max Jacob and Roland Barthes19. Life-Writing in Roger Laporte and Jacques Roubaud