Catherine Viollet and Jean-Louis Jeannelle, with Isabelle Grell. Genese et Autofiction

By Mortimer, Armine Kotin | Biography, Spring 2008 | Go to article overview

Catherine Viollet and Jean-Louis Jeannelle, with Isabelle Grell. Genese et Autofiction


Mortimer, Armine Kotin, Biography


Catherine Viollet and Jean-Louis Jeannelle, with Isabelle Grell. Genese et autofiction. Louvain-la-Neuve: Bruylant-Academia, 2007. 262 pp. ISBN13 978-2-87209-817-0, 29.50 euros.

Philippe Lejeune writes:

   "Mais qu'est-ce que la genetique? Non, ce n'est pas exactement
   l'etude des brouillons, ou "avant-textes": ils ne sont que les
   lieux ou les moyens, certes privilegies, de la recherche, mais
   parmi d'autres possibles. Un "dossier genetique" peut inclure des
   lettres, des entretiens, des temoignages exterieurs, etc. Le but de
   la genetique est de comprendre pourquoi et comment quelqu'un a cree
   quelque chose.

   [But what is genetic criticism? No, it's not exactly the study of
   first drafts or "pretexts"; those are only the locations and the
   instruments--significant ones, to be sure--of research, among
   others. A "genetic record" can include letters, interviews,
   accounts by others, etc. The goal of genetic criticism is to
   understand why and how someone created something.]

This last sentence, in all its splendid generality, turns us away from the mechanisms, or the locations and the instruments, of genetic criticism, toward its role in interpretation. Genetic criticism in the service of interpretation: that is the ideal to which the approach illustrated in this volume aspires, applying this approach to the particular case of life writing known as autofiction.

And what is autofiction? The title page is followed by a complete quotation of La Fontaine's well-known fable, "La Chauve-souris et les deux belettes" ["The Bat and the Two Weasels"], in which the bat indexes hybrid form: "Je suis oiseau: voyez mes ailes" ["I'm a bird--see my wings"] or else "Je suis souris: vivent les rats!" ["I'm a mouse--long live rats!"]. Neither/nor, either/or: autofiction depends on the context. Or, as La Fontaine has the first weasel say, "Parler sans fiction" ["Speak without fiction"].

That is precisely what autobiographers today seem to be unable to do--and the corresponding bat-like stance on the other side of the genre would be that novelists of today seem to be unable to write without telling something about themselves. From the starting point of the creation of the word autofiction by Serge Doubrovsky in 1977 to its use for an ever greater number of books, both present and past (even long past: Vincent Colonna claims Lucian of Samosta as a creator of autofictions), critics and creators alike have been struggling to identify this Frankenstein's monster of which the simplest and broadest--hence probably useless--form is to say that it covers everything between the novel and autobiography, no matter what genre the publication itself may specify.

The essays of Genese et autofiction are the result of a one-day conference coorganized by the "Genese et autobiographie" team at the Institut des Textes et Manuscrits modernes (ITEM), the Paris section of the CNRS that studies manuscripts, and a comparable team at Fabula.org, the all-embracing website for literary critical studies. Its great value lies in the genetic approach, which promises to help reduce the ambiguity of the autofictional genre. If, as Lejeune generalizes, genetic criticism can make us understand "why and how someone created something," we might at the same time approach clarity on the question of the genre. On this score, the "Presentation" by Catherine Viollet and the contribution by Jean-Louis Jeannelle are particularly useful. Viollet writes that "l'autofiction est une, voire 'la' forme post-moderne, c'est-a-dire postholocauste, de l'autobiographie: meme si, comme l'affirment [Doubrovsky et Federman], 'tous les details sont exacts,' le recit est toujours reinvention du vecu, creation langagiere" (8) ["autofiction is a (or the) post-modern form of autobiography, which is to say its post-Holocaust form. Even if 'the details are all factual,' as [Doubrovsky and Federman] assert, the narrative is always a reinvention of lived experience, a creation of language"]. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Catherine Viollet and Jean-Louis Jeannelle, with Isabelle Grell. Genese et Autofiction
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.