Originally published in 1981. This book looks at the autobiographical work of nine twentieth-century writers – Henry Adams, Henry James, W. B. Yeats, Boris Pasternak, Leiris, Jean-Paul Sartre, Vladimir Nabokov, Henry Green and Adrian Stokes. The author argues that often the writer has shaped his life through his craft, coming to understand the pattern of his own existence through the formalism of language. In each case the writer stamps his personality on the work by mean of a distinctive verbal surface whose discipline enables him to evade narrow egotism and forces both reader and writer into an act of collaboration and corroboration. Written at a time when criticism was turning to focus on the relation between the reader and the text, this study added a provocative dimension to the debate and is still an important read today.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. Henry Adams: ‘The Education of Henry Adams’ (1907) 2. Henry James: ‘A Small Boy and Others’ (1913) 3. W. B. Yeats: ‘Reveries Over Childhood and Youth’ (1914) 4. Boris Pasternak: ‘Safe Conduct’ (1931) 5. Michael Leiris: ‘L’Age d’homme’ (1939) 6. Jean-Paul Sartre: ‘Les Mots’ (1964) 7. Vadmimir Nabokov: ‘Speak, Memory’ (1966). Conclusion. Appendix A: Henry Green: ‘Pack My Bag’ (1940). Appendix B: Adrian Stokes: ‘Inside Out’ (1947)