By Martin A. Danahay
Complementing contemporary feminist stories of girl self-representation, this ebook examines the dynamics of masculine self-representation in nineteenth-century British literature. Arguing that the class "autobiography" was once a manufactured from nineteenth-century individualism, the writer analyzes the dependence of the nineteenth-century masculine topic on autonomy or self-naming because the prerequisite for the composition of a lifestyles heritage. The masculine autobiographer achieves this autonomy through the use of a feminized different as a metaphorical replicate for the self. The feminized different in those texts represents the social price of masculine autobiography. Authors from Wordsworth to Arnold, together with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas De Quincey, John Ruskin, Alfred Tennyson, Robert Louis Stevenson, John Stuart Mill, and Edmund Gosse, use girl enthusiasts and relations as symbols for the group with which they suppose they've got misplaced touch. within the theoretical advent, the writer argues that those texts really privilege the self sustaining self over the photographs of neighborhood they ostensibly worth, developing within the procedure a self-enclosed and self-referential "community of one."
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Extra info for A Community of One: Masculine Autobiography and Autonomy in Nineteenth-Century Britain
Arnold both inherited and attempted to repress his Romantic autobiographical legacy in his poetry, particularly the influence of Wordsworth. In criticizing the autobiographical "dialogue of the mind with itself," Arnold is apparently repressing what he views as dangerously solipsistic tendencies in both his Romantic forebears and his own writing. I say "apparently" because Arnold's self-repression in his preface actually helped construct the very subjectivity he is criticizing. Far from escaping the dialogue of the mind with itself, Matthew Arnold, in his poetry and prose, is actually centrally concerned with the construction of his own subjectivity, even as he overtly represses self-consciousness.
As Michael Sprinker points out, "Prior to the eighteenth century, works that are today labelled as autobiographies were known as confessions, memoirs, journaux intime"; the emergence of the word autobiography is connected to the emergence of "the concept of the author as sovereign subject over a discourse" (Sprinker 1980, 325). " I use the term individualism here in the sense proposed by Alan Macfarlane in The Origins of English Individualism (1979): It is the view that society is constituted of autonomous, equal, units, namely separate individuals, and that such individuals are more important, ultimately, than any larger constituent group.
Reade is alone, implying that writing requires a serene withdrawal from everyday life on the part of the author. In the Victorian period, as today, it was assumed that every writer needed a study, a room of his own, to which to retire and write. Reade's study opens out onto a garden, linking the domestic interior to nature. In this case nature is represented by an extremely formal and arranged landscape, the Victorian garden. The study embodies the suburban ideal and represents Reade's study as a domestic and pastoral retreat from the cares of urban life.
A Community of One: Masculine Autobiography and Autonomy in Nineteenth-Century Britain by Martin A. Danahay