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Self/image: reading the visual in Atwood's fictive autobiographies

Davies, M. (2017) Self/image: reading the visual in Atwood's fictive autobiographies. Contemporary Women's Writing, 11 (3). pp. 373-390. ISSN 1754-1476

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1093/cww/vpx021


Margaret Atwood's extensive back catalogue includes a group of fictive autobiographies, each engaged in a self-reflexive consideration of the problems involved in writing a life story. These fictive meta-autobiographies consciously critique any act of self-representation within narrative in a radical challenge to phallogocentric models of life-writing and truth-telling. This group of texts (including Cat's Eye [1988], Lady Oracle [1976], The Handmaid's Tale [1985], and The Blind Assassin [2000], as well as some of Atwood's poetry) also incorporates a dominant use of visual images, particularly photographs: each extending questions involving the "real," the "copy," origination, attribution, and authority. These questions open up new ways of considering how text and image conspire to defer certainty in the objective and subjective "real," as Atwood's visual texts prove to be as duplicitous as the language through which they are narrated. This article connects with critical accounts of life-writing and with Susan Sontag's reflections on photography in order to discuss the status of the visual image as an agent of representation within any autobiographical account.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Language Text and Power
ID Code:75847
Publisher:Oxford University Press


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