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Life Course/Writing

Mathias Meert and Ann Peeters, "Life Course/Writing: An Introduction"



Diana Castilleja, “Angelina Muñiz-Huberman: ballingschap en constructie van een gefragmenteerd 'ik'“

As a daughter of Spanish exiles, Angelina Muñiz-Huberman will walk a long and painful course, from birth to adulthood, in order to achieve her self-development. Since the topic of this publication is “the human life course in literary perspective”, we will consider in the following contribution the “human life course as a literary construction”. With the help of memory, at a personal and collective level, the author tries to glue together pieces in order to shape her own, fragmented identity.

Keywords: Angelina Muñiz-Huberman, auto-fiction, “pseudomemories”, exile



Dirk Vanden Berghe, “Alfieri, Rimbaud en de eerste autobiografische werken van Ardengo Soffici”

At the beginning of the 20th century Italian intellectuals wanted to realize social reform through the periodical “La Voce”. In the literary field their search implied the rejection of traditional genres. Until the end of his career Ardengo Soffici (1879-1964) would focus on an abundance of autobiographical writings. For a long time being considered as an icon of “spontaneity” within the Italian literature, his quest was centered on the assimilation of specific figures of style and cultural reminiscences. An intertextual approach of Soffici’s early (and for a long time unpublished) writings sheds light on the way in which he slowly acquired a proper style that determined his craft up to 1920. In particular, attention is paid to the description of his childhood (Infanzia), a stretch of life which, in his view, carried a symbolic value, responsible for his own vision on being an author.

Keywords: Italian literature, early 20th century, Ardengo Soffici, intertextuality, autobiography



Mathias Meert, “Stefan Zweigs Fouché: biographische Bildnisse einer ‚Hintergrundgestalt‘”

The intriguing personality of Joseph Fouché stands at the center of Stefan Zweig’s 1929 eponymous biography and makes a brief, but crucial appearance in his play Das Lamm des Armen (1930). This article examines how biography can be considered as a liminal and hybrid genre at the crossroads of literature and historiography. It discusses how Zweig’s biography of Fouché positions itself towards both discourses while presenting a careful psychological analysis of the protagonist as a political Machiavellian mastermind. Through the analysis of various paratexts, this contribution shows how Zweig invites the reader to connect his psychological analysis with contemporary European politics since 1918.

Keywords: Austrian/German literature, Stefan Zweig, Joseph Fouché, psychological biography, literature and historiography



Marc van Zoggel, “A Prisoner’s Conviction. Time, Space, and Morality in W.F. Hermans’s The Darkroom of Damocles and Harry Mulisch’s The Assault”

In this article, I discuss prison scenes in The Darkroom of Damocles (De donkere kamer van Damocles, 1958) by Willem Frederik Hermans and The Assault (De aanslag, 1982) by Harry Mulisch, two texts belonging to the canon of modern Dutch literature and representatives of the popular genre of Dutch post-war littérature engagé that has helped to push historiography beyond an all too simplistic reading of World War II in terms of right and wrong. Although both authors appear to arrive at remarkably similar if not identical pessimistic conclusions about morality and mankind, on closer inspection Mulisch can be seen to argue for an ironic view of self and life as a means of coping with this conclusion, a difference in perspective that may be attributed to the distinct life experiences and world views of the authors. I will show how in the two novels the prison or prisonlike environment serves both as a concrete space and as a metaphorical setting in which spatial and temporal indicators function as meaningful elements that foreshadow the different endings of the novels and of the fictional life histories they present.

Keywords: Dutch post-war literature, fictional live stories, prison narratives, time and space, irony