Revealing Lives

Autobiography, Biography, and Gender

Edited by Susan Groag Bell & Marilyn Yalom

Subjects: Congressional Studies
Series: SUNY series in Feminist Criticism and Theory
Paperback : 9780791404362, 272 pages, October 1990
Hardcover : 9780791404355, 272 pages, November 1990

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Table of contents



Susan Groag Bell and Marilyn Yalom

1. The "Failure" of Biography and the Triumph of Women's Writing: Bettina von Arnim's Die Gunderode and Christa Wolf's The Quest for Christa T.
Anna K. Kuhn

2. "Double Singleness": Gender Role Mergence in the Autobiographical Writings of Charles and Mary Lamb
Jane Aaron

3. A Woman in the "Man's World": The Journals of Nadezhda Durova
Mary Fleming Zirin

4. Biography as Autobiography: Adele Hugo, Witness of Her Husband's Life
Marilyn Yalom

5. Biography as Reflected Autobiography: The Self-Creation of Anne Thackeray Ritchie
Carol Hanbery MacKay

6. The Feminization of John Stuart Mill
Susan Groag Bell

7. The Literary Standard, Working-Class Autobiography, and Gender
Regenia Gagnier

8. "Yo Sola Aprendi": Mexican Women's Personal Narratives from Nineteenth-Century California
Genaro Padilla

9. Reconstructing the Person: The Case of Clara Shortridge Foltz
Barbara Allen Babcock

10. Lorine Niedecker: Composing a Life
Glenna Breslin

11. Postmodernism and the Biographer
Diane Wood Middlebrook

12. The Mother Tongue of Paul Celan: Translation into Biography
John Felstiner

13. Engendering an Autobiography in Art: Charlotte Salomon's "Life? Or Theater?"
Mary Lowenthal Felstiner

14. "Father Books": Memoirs of the Children of Fascist Fathers
Susan G. Figge





In this book gender is the lens through which autobiography and biography are scrutinized. The authors show what is revealed when they magnify the gendered aspects of both men's and women's writing. The eternal questions of identity, choice, responsibility, happiness, tragedy, and even death are interpreted in terms of gender analysis.

The book presents a sequence of studies from the early nineteenth to the late twentieth century that includes individuals such as American poet Anne Sexton and German writers Christa Wolf and Paul Celan, and groups such as nineteenth-century Mexican women and members of the British working class. It extends the paradigm of "self-reflexive" literature to include and highlight the overlap between autobiography and biography, especially in the case of women who often wrote their lives obliquely through the biographies of their famous male relatives, e. g., Adèle Hugo and Anne Thackeray Ritchie.

The authors refuse to accept a monolithic conception of gender. The studies of Charles and Mary Lamb, Nadezhda Durova, and John Stuart Mill demonstrate that even in the nineteenth century, a binary gender system is inadequate as a mode of approach to actual life stories.

At the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at Stanford University, Susan Groag Bell is Senior Research Associate, and Marilyn Yalom is Senior Scholar.