I’ve actually been getting a little bit of academic work done, despite being in transit this weekend. I continue to chip away at the paper I’m presenting on Saturday. I was very relieved to have caught a blooper that would have been embarrassing had I not corrected it (yes, there is a difference between Stephen Greenblatt and Hayden White!).
As I’m working through my jet lag I’ve also spent some time in the middle of the night getting started on the paper I’ll be presenting at the end of May at a seminar on history and literature. I had originally proposed another paper on The Biographer’s Tale, figuring that the novel is so complex that I could surely come up with something more to say about it. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I have said my piece on it in the article that just came out, and I’m just not ready for another stab at it.
In the meantime, I’ve become more and more interested in Byatt’s sources—the biographers Michael Meyer and Robert Ferguson—so I wrote to the seminar organizer asking if I could change my topic. Thankfully that was okay, and a paper on Meyer’s play A Meeting in Rome (about an entirely fictive encounter between Ibsen and Strindberg) is starting to come together. What I’m interested in is really just the basic fact that both biographers supplemented their ostensibly objectively factual biographical writing with overtly fictional writing about the same biographical subject; it raises all sorts of questions about the conceptual boundaries between biography and fiction. I’d so love to know why they felt compelled to fictionalize Ibsen—it’s as if they got so wrapped up in the person that they felt the creative urge to make him their own. Actually, in the case of Meyer, the fictions actually predate the biography, which is even more interesting to me.
Words written: 807 on the new seminar paper, plus lots of back and forth with the conference paper for this week.