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Living autobiographically : how we create identity in narrative / Paul John Eakin

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journal contribution
posted on 2009-01-01, 00:00 authored by David MccooeyDavid Mccooey
Preview of the article : Ever since the publication of Fictions in Autobiography in 1985, Paul John Eakin has been a major presence in the field of autobiography studies. As with his other monographs, Eakin’s latest work, Living Autobiographically: How We Create Identity in Narrative, brings together elegance and range, as well as clarity and conceptual complexity. Like his other works, too, Living Autobiographically covers a wide range of theoretical and autobiographical texts. While not indifferent to literary theory per se, Eakin (as has been apparent for some time) is profoundly stimulated by theory that goes beyond not only the literary but also the humanities. Most notable in this monograph is Eakin’s use of recent research in neurobiology. With regard to his choice of autobiographical texts for discussion, most are American, though Eakin does discuss the Australian writer David Malouf (a long-time favorite of Eakin’s), as well as the Norwegian autobiographical narratives analyzed in Marianne Gullestad’s Everyday Life Philosophers: Modernity, Morality, and Autobiography in Norway (1996). Eakin’s interest in Gullestad’s work, which is based on a project that elicited autobiographical narratives from “ordinary” individuals, shows that he is not solely concerned with so-called “literary” texts, something also seen in his discussion of the “Portraits of Grief ” series that appeared in the New York Times in the wake of 9/11.

Bringing together such disparate texts, auto/biographical procedures, and theoretical concerns is an ambitious enterprise. Most ambitious of all is that Living Autobiographically brings “culturalist” and biological frameworks together as a way of answering the question

History

Journal

Biography

Volume

32

Issue

2

Season

Spring

Pagination

344 - 348

Publisher

University of Hawaii Press

Location

Honolulu, Hawaii

ISSN

0162-4962

eISSN

1529-1456

Language

eng

Notes

Reproduced with the specific permission of the copyright owner

Publication classification

D1 Major review

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