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Drastic History And The Production Of Autobiography

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Chapter Summary

This chapter suggests that the drastic description of history as a series of revolutionary departures found a counterpart in autobiographical endeavors that were more and more choreographed across threshholds. It introduces three written-down autobiographies, but related house stories to explore fully the labor of archiving the private and historical conditions that enabled such activity. The first house story comes from the French writer Chateaubriand. In his novel René, Chateaubriand reenacts the homecomings of the French emigres, after a decade of exile. The second house story indicates the way household inventory was made available to write about loss and authenticity. In an 1853 short story, Gérard de Nerval sends his hero to the countryside to reclaim a lost lover whom he had abandoned for the city life of Paris. Final house story comes from Godey's Lady Book, the most widely circulated American magazine in the first half of the nineteenth century.

Keywords: autobiography; Chateaubriand; drastic history; French émigrés; Gérard de Nerval; Godey's Lady Book; René; short stories



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