Altered Egos
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Altered Egos : Authority in American Autobiography

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Description

This work is concerned with the 'authority' of autobiography. Couser considers recent critiques of the notion of autobiography as issuing from, determined by, referring to a pre-existing self. He examines the autobiographies of Benjamin Franklin, P. T. Barnum, and Mark Twain and appraises the authority of autobiography in the rather different circumstances of the minority writer: in slave narratives, the Civil War diaries of Mary Chesnut, and contemporary works by Richard Rodriguez and Maxine Hong Kingston. The work treats autobiographical writing as a struggle for literary control over the life of the author, against the constraints of genre, language, and society.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 296 pages
  • 148.8 x 218.2 x 26.2mm | 557.37g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 019505833X
  • 9780195058338

Review quote

'Altered Egos is a rewarding book with insights about authority, not just in individual texts and authors, but in the genre itself.' Carol J. Singley, The American University, Prose Studies, Vol. 15, No. 2, August 1992show more

Back cover copy

In this work, Couser explores the authority of American autobiography in several related senses. First, the idea that autobiography is authoritative writing because it is presumably verifiable. Second, the idea that one's life is one's exclusive textual domain. Third, the idea that, because of the apparent congruence between the implicit ideology of the genre and that of the nation, autobiography has a special prestige in America.show more