Elusive Subjects: Biography as Gendered Metafiction

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Troubador Pub., 2005 - Literary Criticism - 189 pages
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This is an innovative, cross-cultural and interdisciplinary reflection on the nature of women's biographical writing. In discussing how a number of writers from Italy, the United States and Australia rescue, or reinterpret, forgotten and excluded notable women from the past, Scarparo presents a controversial theory of biography based on metafictional dialogues between biographers as self-declared writers of fiction and their biographical subjects. The author eloquently places biography at the centre of a reflection on the relationship between history and fiction, and questions the notion of historical truth by looking at specific examples in which history turns into fiction, and fiction becomes history. In her discussion of these examples, Scarparo links the general issue of women's history-intended as the act of revising, recuperating, or simply writing it as History-to a specific narrative strategy that she calls gendered metafiction. Elusive Subjects offers a perceptive discussion of the varying degrees to which writers such as Banti, Bellonci, Daitch and Modjeska render their presence as story-tellers visible. In so doing, Scarparo questions the concealment that the writing of history and biography have traditionally involved, and discusses feminist biography as gendered metafiction.

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Artemisia Gentileschi and Anna Banti
Isabella dEste and Maria Bellonci
Lucienne Crozier and Susan Daitch

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About the author (2005)

Susanna Scarparo is a Cassamarca lecturer in Italian Studies at Monash University. She has a PhD in Italian Studies and Comparative Literature and has published articles on life writing, Italian feminist theory and Italian Australian literature. She is the co-editor of Across Genres, Generations and Borders: Italian Women Writing Lives.

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