Although much has been written on autobiography, the same cannot be said of autothanatography, the writing of one's death. This study starts from the premise that autobiography is aporetic, not or not only a matter of a subject strategizing with language to produce an exemplary identity but a matter also of its responding to an exorbitant call to write its death. The I-dominated representations of particular others and of the privileged other to whom a work is addressed must therefore be set against an alterity plaguing the I from within or shadowing it from without.
Baudelaire emerges as a central figure for this understanding of autobiography as autothanatography through his critique of the narcissism of a certain Rousseau, his translation of De Quincey's confessions, his artistic practice of self-conscious, thorough going doubleness, and his service to Wilde as model for an aporetic secrecy.
The book makes a strong intervention in the debate over one of the most-read genres of our time.
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Fordham University Press
October 17, 2009
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