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By Martin A. Danahay

Complementing fresh feminist stories of girl self-representation, this ebook examines the dynamics of masculine self-representation in nineteenth-century British literature. Arguing that the class "autobiography" used to be a made from nineteenth-century individualism, the writer analyzes the dependence of the nineteenth-century masculine topic on autonomy or self-naming because the prerequisite for the composition of a lifestyles heritage. The masculine autobiographer achieves this autonomy by utilizing a feminized different as a metaphorical replicate for the self. The feminized different in those texts represents the social rate of masculine autobiography. Authors from Wordsworth to Arnold, together with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas De Quincey, John Ruskin, Alfred Tennyson, Robert Louis Stevenson, John Stuart Mill, and Edmund Gosse, use woman fans and family as symbols for the neighborhood with which they think they've got misplaced touch. within the theoretical creation, the writer argues that those texts truly privilege the self reliant self over the pictures of group they ostensibly price, growing within the method a self-enclosed and self-referential "community of one."

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For example, Mill and Gosse enact in the narrative of their autobiographies the construction of an autonomous subjectivity at the expense of the social. Both Mill and Gosse enact dialogues that are in fact disguised monologues. Mill's "mental crisis," for instance, takes place entirely within his own mind, with no reference to external social forces. The internal dynamics of his own self-questioning actually take the place of any imagined social context. Mill is completely alone, according to his account.

The autobiography of George Mockford, an ordinary working man, contains the narrative of a "crisis" similar to Mill's. Mockford's was an overtly religious crisis and at first glance has little in common with Mill's experience. However, Mill's reference to the similarity of his crisis to the Methodist "conviction of sin" suggests that he in fact was undergoing an intellectual version of the common Victorian crisis of faith in God. Both men were in fact undergoing a Victorian "rite of passage" in their crises that cut across class lines.

The same is true of the role of repression in Victorian autobiography, as I argue in chapters 4 and 5. Arnold's views depend upon the premise of a dichotomy between the individual and the social, in which the possibility of the self's complete autonomy from the social is assumed. The separation of the individual from the social was one of the central tenets of nineteenth-century individualism, as it is today. Alan Sinfield argues that "the autonomous human subject" is a "given which is undetermined and unconstructed and hence a ground of meaning and coherence" in both nineteenth- and twentieth-century thought (Sinfield, 6566).

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