Writing Novels, Writing Lives, Writing Continents
After the proclaimed ‘death of the author‘ in the Sixties by Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault (among others), the spirit of the writer never truly disappeared. A reductionist approach in which the text and nothing but the text was at the heart of the study of literature, seems to have made room for an approach that again incorporates the life of the author.
This turn towards the author is not a one-dimensional shift that takes the biography of the author again as an all explanatory key to literature. On the contrary, by looking at the life of the author the focus is on the creative interaction between the literary work and real life, everyday society and political actuality. Hence it opens up the idea that literature arises out of the experiences of the writer, by stating that the writer not only puts his own personal history into literature, but that he is also ‘rewriting’ his life and its surroundings by creatively shaping them in a narrative.
The appearance of a hybrid form of literature in which the real life of the author, actual history and fiction intertwine has led to a increased critical attention for autobiographical genres – termed ‘lifewriting’ –, as well as the posture of the author and the effects and workings of narrative techniques in both fiction and non-fiction.
The theme of Ravenstein 2013 ‘Writing Lives, Writing Novels, Writing Continents’ explores this issue from different points of view: from the author, from the literary work itself and from the socio-political context in which both function.