University of Hertfordshire

" A word-web woven": autobiography in old English poetry

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  • G. Holderness
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-34
JournalE-rea: Revue électronique d’études sur le monde anglophone
Publication statusPublished - 2007


Today Philippe Lejeune's concise definition of “autobiography” raises many problems of ontology, psychology and gender. Terms such as “real person”, “own existence”, “development of (…) personality” could no longer be so innocently employed. Nor would it be legitimate to imply, if only grammatically, that autobiographical interest belongs “naturally” to masculine gender (see for example Marcus, and Stanley). Lejeune himself acknowledged the limitations of the definition, noting for instance that fictional narratives as well as factual ones can be autobiographic. He insisted on only one qualifying condition for autobiographical discourse: there must be “identity between the author, the narrator, and the protagonist”(193). The writer must be telling his/her own story about him/herself. [opening paragraph]


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