Metabiographical fiction…

Yesterday I got started compiling a bibliography on Byatt’s The Biographer’s Tale, and today (miraculously) I’ve been able to spend the entire day at home, reading five of the articles I located, expanding my working bibliography, and finishing off the novel itself. So far I’m seeing a definite gap in the scholarship concerning the way the fictionalization of historical people is treated in the novel. The first five articles I’ve read don’t really deal with the fact that the text contains both multiple levels of fictional characters (the fictive Phineas G. Nanson writing about the equally fictive Scholes Destry-Scholes, writing about the equally fictive Elmer Bole) and a mish-mash of factual and fictive texts about the decidedly historical figures of Carl von Linné, Francis Galton, and Henrik Ibsen. Of course I have quite  a few analyses to read through before I can really say anything conclusive about the secondary literature, but this is a promising start. One of the articles (by Carla Rodríguez González) also contains a very helpful overview of the critical reception of the novel, pointing out that many critics have been especially critical of the long sequence of narratives on the three historical figures, which (ostensibly) interrupts Phineas’ narrative.

It’s much too early in the process to be producing any writing, but the ideas are definitely germinating. I’ll keep working on this tomorrow too (though I may go to a matinee of Jens Lien’s Sønner av Norge so that I can finally finish off the last touches on my article on Nikolaj Frobenius’ Teori og praksis. Frobenius wrote the screenplay, so I’m anxious to see how he adapted his own work).

Here’s the working bibliography I’ve compiled so far:

Bertens, Hans. The Idea of the Postmodern: A History. London: Routledge, 1995. [809.04 Ber]

Boccardi, Mariadele. “Biography, the Postmodern Last Frontier: Banville, Barnes, Byatt, and Unsworth.” Q/W/E/R/T/Y 11 (2001): 149-157

Brown, Bill. “Thing Theory.” Critical Inquiry 28.1 (2001): 1-22

Byatt, A.S. The Biographer’s Tale. London: Vintage, 2000.

—. On Histories and Stories: Selected Essays. New York: Vintage, 2001. [809.93358 Bya]

Cambiaghi, Mara. “The Invention of Truth and the Paradoxes of Memory in A.S. Byatt’s ‘Sugar’ and The Biographer’s Tale.Travelling Concepts III: Memory, Narrative, Image. Ed. Nancy Pedri. Amsterdam: ASCA, 2003. 73-86.

Campbell, Jane. A.S. Byatt and the Heliotropic Imagination. Waterloo: Wilfried Laurier UP, 2004. [828 Bya:Cam]

Chevalier, Jean-Louis. “‘Speaking of Sources’: An Interview with A.S. Byatt.” Sources (1999):

Certeau, Michel de. The Writing of History. Trans. Tom Conley. New York: Columbia UP, 1988. [907.2 Cer utlånt]

Dahl, Niels Fredrik. Henrik og Emilie. Oslo: Oktober, 2006.

Franklin, Ruth. “Inauthentic Fabrics.” New Republic 20 April 2001. 37-40.

Gudmundsdóttir, Gunnthórunn. Borderlines: Autobiography and Fiction in Postmodern Life Writing. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2003. [bestilt]

Hutcheon, Linda. A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction. London: Routledge, 1988. [809.391 Hut]

Kakutani, Michiko. “A Bumbling Literary Sleuth Ends Up Clueless.” The New York Times 23 January 2001. 20.

Kelly, Kathleen Coyne. A.S. Byatt. New York: Twayne, 1996.

Kersten, Dennis. “Life After the Death of the Author: The Adventures of Robert Louis Stevenson in Contemporary Biographical Fiction.”“Hello, I Say, It’s Me”: Contemporary Reconstructions of Self and Subjectivity. Ed. Jan D. Kucharzewski, Stefanie Schäfer and Lutz Schowalter. Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2009. 191-207. [bestilt]

Kramer, Stephanie. Fiktionale Biographien. (Re-)Visionen und (Re-)Konstruktionen weiblicher Lebesntwürfe in Dramen britischer Autorinnen seit 1970: Ein Beitrag zur Typologie und Entwicklung des historischen Dramas. Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2000.

Lee, Hermione. “Just Get a Life…” Observer 28 May 2000. 21.

Maack, Annegret. “Analogy and Contiguity: A.S. Byatt’s The Biographer’s Tale.” Connotations 13.3 (2003-2004): 276-288 

McHale, Brian. Postmodernist Fiction. New York: Methuen, 1987. [809.39113 Mch]

Middeke, Martin and Werner Huber, eds. Biofictions: The Rewriting of Romantic Lives in Contemporary Fiction and Drama. Rochester: Camden House, 1999.

Nadj, Julijana. “Die fiktionale Metabiographie als kritsches Gattungsgedächtnis.” Litteratur, Erinnerung, Identität. Theorikonzeptionen und Fallstudien. Ed. Astrid Erll, Marion Gymnich and Ansgar Nünning. Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2003. 211-226. [bestilt]

—. Gattungsgedächtnis und Gattugskritik: Studien zur fiktionalen Metabiographie in der zeitgenössischen englischsprachigen Erzählliteratur.

Nünning, Ansgar. “Fictional Metabiographies and Metaautobiographies: Towards a Definition, Typology and Analysis of Self-Reflexive Hybrid Metagenres. Self-Reflexivity in Literature. Ed. Werner Huber, Martin Middeke and Hubert Zapf. Würtzburg: Text & Theorie, 2005. 195-209.

—. “Mapping the Field of Hybrid New Genres in the Contemporary Novel: A Critique of Lars Ole Sauerberg, Fact into Fiction and a Survey of Other Recent Approaches to the Relationship Between ‘Fact’ and ‘Fiction.'” Orbis Litterarum 48 (1993): 281-305 [PDF]

—. “Von der fiktionalen Biographie zur biographischen Metafiktion: Prolegomena zu einer Theorie, Typologie und Funtionsgeschichte eines hybriden Genres.” Fakten und Fiktionen. Strategien fiktionalbiographischer Dichterdarstellungen in Roman, Drama und Film seit 1970. Ed. Christian von Zimmermann. Tübingen: Narr, 2000. 15-36.

—. Von historischer Fiktion zu historiographischer Metafiktion. Bd. 1.: Theorie, Typologie und Poetik des historischen Romans. Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 1995.

Næss, Atle. “Fotsporenes magi.” Forfatteren 2 (2000): 4-5

—. “Ibsen som person. En selvangivelse.” Vinduet 42.1 (1988): 50-52

—. Sensommer. Oslo: Gyldendal, 2006.

O’Connor, Erin. “Reading The Biographer’s Tale.” Victorian Studies 44.3 (2002): 379-387

Perloff, Marjorie, ed. Postmodern Genres. Norman, OK: U Oklahoma P, 1989 [709.04 Pos utlånt].

Pinsker, Sanford. “Postmodern Theory, and the Academic Novel’s Latest Turn.” Sewanee Review (2003): 183-191 [PDF]

Rodríguez González, Carla. “A Dialogue with Literary Theory: A.S. Byatt’s The Biographer’s Tale.” English Studies 89.4 (2008): 447-460

Sako, Katsura. “Others in ‘Self-Conscious’ Biography: A.S. Byatt’s The Biographer’s Tale.” Realism’s Others. Ed. Geoffrey and Eva Aldea. Newcastle-Upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2010. 277-292.

Sauerberg, Lars Ole. Fact into Fiction: Documentary Realism in the Contemporary Novel. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991. [bestilt]

Schabert, Ina. In Quest of the Other Person: Fiction as Biography. Tübingen: Francke, 1990.

Scurr, Ruth. “Underlinings.” London Review of Books 8 August 2000.

Steveker, Lena. “Imagining the ‘Other’ – An Ethical Reading of A.S. Byatt’s Possession and The Biographer’s Tale.” The Ethical Component in Experimental British Fiction Since the 1960’s. Ed. Susana Onega and Jean-Michel Ganteau. Newcastle-Upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2007. 117-130. [bestilt]

Tönnies, Merle. “A New Self-Conscious Turn at the Turn of the Century? Postmodern Metafiction in Recent Works by ‘Established’ British Writers.” Anglistik und Englishunterricht 66 (2005): 57-82

Wallhead, Celia. “Metaphors for the Self in A.S. Byatt’s The Biographer’s Tale.” Language and Literature 12.4 (2003): 291-308

Waugh, Patricia. Metafiction: The Theory and Practice of Self-Conscious Fiction. London: Methuen. 1985. [808.3 Wau]

Wesseling, Elisabeth. Writing History as a Prophet: Postmodernist Innovations of the Historical Novel. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1991. [809.3 Wes]

(Crossed out items have been read) Oh, and can I just add that it’s weird and meta to blog about researching this novel, which itself is essentially a long narrative about carrying out academic research?

ETA: Whoa! Something happened in the late afternoon after I wrote this, and suddenly I managed to produce a whole bunch of writing! I’m so excited to see the outline and direction of the article start to appear!

Words Written: 938


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