Contemporary Second- and Third-Person Autobiographical Writing : Narrating the Male Self book cover
1st Edition

Contemporary Second- and Third-Person Autobiographical Writing
Narrating the Male Self

  • Available for pre-order on March 9, 2023. Item will ship after March 30, 2023
ISBN 9781032385044
March 30, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
232 Pages

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Book Description

This book explores 21st-century uses of the second- and third-person perspective in Anglophone autobiographical narratives by canonical male writers. Through detailed readings of contemporary autobiographical works by Paul Auster, Julian Barnes, J. M. Coetzee, and Salman Rushdie, the study demonstrates the multiple aesthetic, rhetorical, and un/ethical implications of the choice of narrative perspective as well as the uncommon step of articulating the self from a perspective which is not I. Drawing on (rhetorical) narratology and autobiography theory, the book engages with questions and tensions of subjectivity and relationality, the interplay of distance and proximity resulting from the narrative perspective, and its effects on the relationship between autobiographer, text, and reader. In addition, the book traces relevant guiding principles the authors use to navigate their self-narratives in relation to others, such as questions of embodiment, visuality, grief, ethics, and politics. Situating the narratives in their socio-political and cultural context, the book uncovers to what extent these autobiographical narratives reflect the authors’ position between self-withdrawal and self-promotion and their response to questions of male agency, self-stylisation, and celebrity status.

Table of Contents


  1. Towards a Poetics of Second- and Third-Person Autobiographical Writing
  2. Embodiment and Self in Paul Auster’s Winter Journal
  3. Visuality and Self in Paul Auster’s Report from the Interior
  4. Personal and Exemplary Grief in Julian Barnes’s Levels of Life
  5. The Personal and the Ethical in J. M. Coetzee’s Summertime
  6. The Personal and the Political in Salman Rushdie’s Joseph Anton
  7. Perspectives and Conclusions


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Christina Schönberger-Stepien is Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Augsburg in Germany, where she received her PhD with a thesis on second- and third-person autobiographical writing. Her areas of research include life-writing, Victorian fiction, and working-class literature. She has published essays on the autobiographical works of Paul Auster and Salman Rushdie and on the feminist biopic.