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Men of Letters, Writing Lives: Masculinity and Literary Auto by Trev Broughton

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By Trev Broughton

Trev Lynn Broughton takes an in-depth examine the advancements inside of Victorian auto/biography, and asks what we will find out about the stipulations and bounds of male literary authority. supplying a feminist research of the consequences of this literary creation on tradition, Broughton appears to be like on the raise in professions with a vested curiosity within the written existence; the rushing up of the Life-and-Letters in this interval; the institutionalization of Life-writing; and the ensuing unfold of a community of regularly male practitioners and commentators. This learn specializes in case experiences from the interval 1880-1903: the theories and achievements of Sir Leslie Stephen and the controversy surrounding James Anthony Froude's account of the wedding of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle.

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He also saw a truculent glance proceeding from the eye of Sir Theodore Martin. He was sure that they had all found the same thing as they sat by their neighbours. ’ (Anon. 1894:9–10) The dinner, and Thompson’s speech, attest to the self-conscious deployment of a gratifying image of Dictionary culture as united and self-selecting: the spectacle of two generations of a public school, Oxbridge and clerical élite meeting with a common national purpose. We sense the strong element of INTRODUCTION 31 clubability and the homosocial—even faintly homoerotic—satisfactions of DNB involvement: satisfactions cut across by the disreputable fact that money changed hands between members of the club.

In its all-too-self-conscious professions of ‘anti-selfconsciousness’; in its validation of masculine autonomy in the guise of a celebration of interdependence; in its laboured disavowal of the self apparently in favour of, but actually at the expense of, a virtually voiceless feminine ‘other’ (Julia); and in its translation of social connections into metaphysical bonds of love, Stephen’s text enacts the dynamics of Danahay’s bourgeois subject almost to the point of parody. Almost, but not quite.

Danahay 1993:19) Implicated as they are in the ideology of masculine autonomy and individualism, however, these authors—in so far as they identify themselves and are identified as authors—can only invoke ‘social claims’ in terms dictated by that ideology. Theirs can never be a real, interdependent community, only a misrecognition of society from the vantagepoint of the (ideal of the) autonomous self. For this reason, autobiographies ‘reduce the social horizon to the interplay of a self and an other’ (14), and in doing so construct the world around an artificialdichotomy between ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ realms.

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