Threads of Life Autobiography and the Will
- List Price: $94.00
- Binding: Hardcover
- Publisher: Univ of Chicago Pr
- Publish date: 10/01/2000
Many autobiographers share profound questions about human life with their readers -- questions like: To what extent was my life imposed on me? To what extent did I bring it about through particular choices and actions, through the activity of my own will? Indeed, the issue of the will is central to autobio-graphical writing, and some of the greatest autobiographies give extended consideration to the will -- its nature, its powers, and ils limitations.
In this new study, Richard Freadman offers the first sustained account of how changing theological, philosophical, and psychological accounts of the human will have been reflected in the writing of autobiography, and of how autobiography in its turn has helped shape various understandings of the will. Early chapters trace narrative representations of the will from antiquity to postmodernism, with particular emphasis on late modernity's culture of the will. Later chapters then present derailed and original readings of autobiographical texts by Louis Althusser, Roland Barthes, B. F. Skinner, Ernest Hemingway, Simone de Beauvoir, Arthur Koestler, Stephen Spender, and Diana Trilling.
Threads of Life includes a theoretical defense of the view that autobiographers are, in varying degrees, agents in their own texts. Freadman argues that late modernity has inherited deeply conflicted attitudes to the will. He suggests that these attitudes, now deeply embedded in contemporary cultural discourse, need reexamining. In this, he contends, "reflective autobiography" has an important part to play.