Inventing the Self

Natalie Sutherland on “The Fiction in Autobiography”

September 12th, 2013 by Jason Tougaw · No Comments

Natalie Sutherland has published an interesting account of the relations between autobiography and fiction in the online magazine Perilous Adventures, entitled “The Fiction in Autobiography: Fantasy, Narrative and the Discovery of Truth.” A lot of her discussion relates to ideas we talked about in class tonight. A colleague, Carrie Hintz, who’s teaching an “Approaches to Life Writing” course in the MALS program, sent me the link to the article. You might find the material her students are posting on their blog interesting–and relevant with regard to our discussions. I’ve linked to it above. I’ll add it to our list of links too.

In the meantime, here’s an excerpt from Sutherland’s essay:

We concluded above that there is a difference between narrative as it is “lived” or experienced in life and narrative as it appears in autobiography. Mustn’t there then also be a difference in the life and in its narrated counterpart? This leads us to the notion that autobiography is not be a simple recalling of the past – to engage in such an act would elude the entire concept and act of narrative, both in life and in writing, since narrative involves not merely thumbing inattentively through life’s experiences, but sequentially and meaningfully relating the ‘parts to the whole.’

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