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The made-up self : impersonation in the personal essay

Author: Carl H Klaus
Publisher: Iowa City : University of Iowa Press, ©2010.
Edition/Format:   Print book : State or province government publication : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
By reconceiving the most fundamental aspect of the personal essay - the I of the essayist - Klaus demonstrates that this seemingly uncontrived form of writing is inherently problematic, not willfully devious but bordering upon the world of fiction. He develops this key idea by explaining how structure, style, and voice determine the nature of a persona and our perception of it in the works of such essayists as
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Material Type: Government publication, State or province government publication
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Carl H Klaus
ISBN: 9781587299131 1587299135
OCLC Number: 537652501
Description: 160 pages ; 23 cm
Contents: Prologue: The "person" in a personal essay --
Evocations of consciousness. Montaigne on "Montaigne" : toward a poetics of self --
The mind and the mind's idiosyncrasy : ideas of consciousness in the personal essay --
Discontinuous : form of consciousness --
Evocations of personality. Voices on voice: the singular "I" and the chameleon "I" --
Elia : pseudonymous self extraordinaire --
Never to be yourself and yet always : Virginia Woolf on the essayist's problem --
Personae and culture. Difference and "I" : cultural consciousness in the personal essay --
Orwell's "A hanging" : politics and the first-person singular/plural --
Personae and personal experience. Illness and "I" : malady in the personal essay --
Days into essays : a self for all seasons.
Responsibility: Carl H. Klaus.

Abstract:

By reconceiving the most fundamental aspect of the personal essay - the I of the essayist - Klaus demonstrates that this seemingly uncontrived form of writing is inherently problematic, not willfully devious but bordering upon the world of fiction. He develops this key idea by explaining how structure, style, and voice determine the nature of a persona and our perception of it in the works of such essayists as Michel de Montaigne, Charles Lamb, E.B. White, and Virginia Woolf. Realizing that this persona is shaped by the force of culture and the impress of personal experience, he explores the effects of both upon the point of view, content, and voice of such essayists as George Orwell, Nancy Mairs, Richard Rodriguez, and Alice Walker. Throughout, in full command of the history of the essay, he calls up numerous passages in which essayists themselves acknowledge the element of impersonation in their work, drawing upon the perspectives of Joan Didion, Edward Hoagland, Joyce Carol Oates, Leslie Marmon Silko, Scott Russell Sanders, Annie Dillard, Vivian Gornick, Loren Eiseley, James Baldwin, and a host of other literary guides.

Finally, adding yet another layer to the made-up self, Klaus succumbs to his addiction to the personal essay by placing some of the different selves that various essayists have called forth in him within the essays that he has crafted so carefully for this book. Making his way from one essay to the next with a persona variously learned, whimsical, and poignant, he enacts the palimpsest of ways in which the made-up self comes to life in the work of a single essayist. Thus over the course of this highly original, beautifully structured study, the personal essay is revealed to be more complex than many readers have supposed. With its lively analyses and illuminating examples, The Made-Up Self will speak to anyone who wishes to understand - or to write - personal essays."--Pub. desc.

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"This book is a cabinet of finely balanced wonders: treatise and revelation, study and confession, provocation and lyric--but most of all, it's a love letter to the essay form. Carl Klaus approaches Read more...

 
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