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Self ImpressionLife-Writing, Autobiografiction, and the Forms of Modern Literature$
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Max Saunders

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199579761

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199579761.001.0001

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Autobiografiction: Stephen Reynolds and A. C. Benson 1

Autobiografiction: Stephen Reynolds and A. C. Benson 1

Chapter:
(p.165) 4 Autobiografiction: Stephen Reynolds and A. C. Benson1
Source:
Self Impression
Author(s):

Max Saunders (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199579761.003.0005

This chapter develops the preceding one's account of autobiographical writing which swerves into fiction. It explores the hybrid form identified in Stephen Reynolds's 1906 essay ‘Autobiografiction.’ Reynolds's arguments are examined in detail. The significance of the body of work he identifies, fusing spiritual experience, fictional narrative, and the essay, is discussed in relation to a growing resistance to conventional forms of auto/biography. One of Reynolds's chief examples is A. C. Benson. Two of his works — The House of Quiet and The Thread of Gold — are analysed in detail, with particular attention to his elaborate play with the forms of life‐writing, and with pseudonymity and posthumousness. Benson's approach to the spiritual through autobiografiction is contextualized in terms of secularization, psychical research, and the emergence of psycho‐analysis. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the trope (deriving from the Nietzsche–Wilde/subjectivist views outlined at the start) that fiction is the best autobiography; and by considering the light the concept of autobiografiction can shed on modernism.

Keywords:   autobiografiction, Stephen Reynolds, A. C. Benson, subjectivism, The House of Quiet, The Thread of Gold, spiritual, spiritualism, secularization, psychical Research, posthumousness, Philippe Lejeune, modernism

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