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Autobiography and the existential self: studies in modern French writing

Keefe, Terry and Smyth, Edmund J. (1994) Autobiography and the existential self: studies in modern French writing. Liverpool University Press. ISBN 9780853233985

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Abstract

In recent years, critical attention has become increasingly focused on autobiography. The impact of this enquiry is not exclusively confined to comparative literature studies and literary theory and criticism, but has also been extended to philosophy, sociology, feminist studies, psychoanalysis, social history, and cultural studies generally. This volume examines specifically the autobiographical writings of the various French ‘existentialist’ (and related) authors and includes discussions of already well-known existentialist autobiographical productions (such as Les Mots and de Beauvoir’s memoirs), as well as examining a number of recent posthumous publications, such as Sartre’s Carnets de la drôle de guerre and Simone de Beauvoir’s Journal de guerre, and the correspondence between Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir (Lettres au Castor). Much of this new material has so far received very little critical attention. The relationship between the ‘self’ and ‘writing’ also emerges in the autobiographical work of a number of other writers, many of whom were either close to the existentialists (in philosophical, aesthetic, or political terms) or have continued as part of this ‘tradition’. Thus, other chapters include analyses of such writers as Albert Camus, Paul Nizan, Jean Genet, Violette Leduc, and Hervé Guibert, whose autobiographical account of his experience of AIDS can be examined in existential terms

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