Autobiography, Ideology, and Genre Theory

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This article will study the ideological presuppositions behind two prevalent definitions of the autobiographic genre ‐ the “typological” and the “dynamic”. The typological view puts the emphasis on the inherent generic dimensions of autobiography, while the dynamic view stresses the “aesthetics of reception”. Despite formal differences, however, both approaches view autobiography as illustrating the problematic relationship between fact and fiction; that is, an ontological difference is claimed to distinguish autobiography from fiction. Autobiography, it is held, purports to represent a “truth” about a given reality (through its duplication), while fiction does not. It will be argued, however, that through the processes of mediation (by linguistic reality), and suspension (due to the text's lack of finality and completion), autobiography can only be a fiction. Indeed autobiography is fiction and fiction is autobiography: both are narrative arrangements of reality. The ideological nature of these arrangements in autobiographical writing is the issue of concern here.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-204
Number of pages18
JournalOrbis Litterarum
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1983
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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