Variations of a cultural pattern
In twentieth-century literature, telling fictional lives is often a way of probing complex social and political conditions. Not only do seminal texts such as Benjamin’s Berlin Childhood around 1900, Johnson’s Speculations about Jakob or Sebald’s The Emigrants seek to reconstruct and contest biographies; in addition, they explore the multifaceted correlations between subjective memory, factual reality, and the conventions of narrative. The essays in this edited volume cover a wide range of European authors and texts while documenting how, in contemporary literature, the writing of lives has become increasingly metafictional and fragile.
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