The University of Wisconsin Press

Women's Studies / Autobiography / Literature and Criticism


The Text Is Myself
Women's Life Writing and Catastrophe
Miriam Fuchs

Wisconsin Studies in Autobiography

"Miriam Fuchs is breaking new ground. Her remarkable exploration of catastrophe writing will be important in autobiography studies and fascinating to all who care about self-representation as a mode of survival."—Susanna Egan, author of Mirror-Talk: Genres of Crisis in Contemporary Autobiography

Queen Lili'uokalani, the last monarch of Hawai'i, was forced to abdicate and faced the annexation of her homeland. American poet H.D. wrote through the London blitz and during the years of less regular bombing. Italian novelist and art critic Anna Banti lost the manuscript of her novel about Artemisia Gentileschi but survived the war devastation to Florence to rewrite it. German-Jewish novelist Grete Weil fled to Holland, but her husband was arrested there and murdered by the Nazis. Chilean novelist Isabel Allende fled her country after her uncle Salvador Allende was assassinated and she later lost her daughter to disease.

In The Text Is Myself, Miriam Fuchs analyzes the impact of catastrophe on the lives and writings of these five women. She shows that, however much the past may be shaped into a discernible storyline, it is the uncertain present that preoccupies these writers. Using a feminist and comparative approach to the texts, Fuchs links the women in creative and insightful ways and displays their many profound connections, despite the differences in their cultural and geographic backgrounds.

Fuchs argues convincingly for a new genre within life writing—the narrative of catastrophe, defined by the writing process that occurs during catastrophic events. Two narratives are being told, and two levels of representation, literal and figurative, are present.

Wisconsin Studies in Autobiography
William L. Andrews, General Editor

 photo of author Miriam Fuchs  Miriam Fuchs is professor of English at the University of Hawai'i and associate editor of the journal Biography.

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Table of Contents


List of Illustrations viii
List of Figures viii
Acknowledgements ix

Introduction 3

Chapter 1 Autobiography as Political Discourse:
Lili'uokalani's Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen 29

Chapter 2 Autobiographical Fiction as Testimony
H. D.'s The Gift 78

Chapter 3 Biographical Fiction as Autobiographical Palimpsest:
Anna Banti's Artemisia 109

Chapter 4 Biblical Renarratization as Autobiographical Intertext:
Grete Weil's The Bride Price: A Novel 139

Chapter 5 Autobiographical Discourse as Biographical Tribute:
Isabel Allende's Paula 162

Conclusion 196

Notes 201

Works Cited 235

Index 247

cover of the Fuchs is dark blue with a photo of the clouds lit by lightening

December 2003
LC: 2003005656 PN
280 pp. 6 x 9  
12 b/w photos, 4 figures

This book is published only in the paper edition.

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Paper $24.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-19064-4
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