Sunday, September 20, 2020

Sunday, September 20, 2020 12:30 am by M. in ,    No comments
A new scholar book with Brontë-related content:
Neo-Victorian Biofiction
Reimagining Nineteenth-Century Historical Subjects

Editors: Marie-Luise Kohlke and Christian Gutleben
Brill | Rodopi
Series:  Neo-Victorian Series, Volume: 6
ISBN: 978-90-04-43413-4

This volume explores the many paradoxes of neo-Victorian biofiction, a genre that yokes together the real and the imaginary, biography and fiction, and generates oxymoronic combinations like creative facts, fictional truth, or poetic truthfulness. Contemporary biofictions recreating nineteenth-century lives demonstrate the crucial but always ethically ambiguous revision and supplementation of the historical archive. Due to the tension between ethical empathy and consumerist voyeurism, between traumatic testimony and exploitative exposé, the epistemological response is per force one of hermeneutic suspicion and iconoclasm. In the final account, this volume highlights neo-Victorianism’s deconstruction of master-narratives and the consequent democratic rehabilitation of over-looked microhistories.
Includes the chapter:
(Re)Tracing Charlotte Brontë’s Steps: Biofiction as Memory Text in Michèle Roberts’s The Mistressclass by Sonia Villegas-López.

Since the publication of Elizabeth Gaskell’s The Life of Charlotte Brontë (1857), the number of biographies and novels on the Brontës has been tantalising. Taking them as necessary context, this chapter will analyse The Mistressclass (2003) by Michèle Roberts, who chooses the characters of Charlotte and Emily Brontë as leading figures in her narrative. Roberts fictionalises central events in their lives, going beyond the limits of biography to produce an imaginative biofiction. In so doing, Roberts presents the parallel lives of a trio of contemporary London writers, the sisters Vinny and Catherine, and Adam, Catherine’s husband, side by side to Charlotte’s epistolary relationship with her Brussels professor, Constantin Heger. I argue that Roberts’s biofictional account of the Brontës can be considered an example of memory text in Annette Kuhn’s critical use of the term, and that in The Mistressclass the Victorian and the contemporary plots interact and complement one another, consciously breaking down the boundaries between the historical and the fictional.

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