Apology to Apostrophe

Autobiography and the Rhetoric of Self-Representation in Spain

Apology to Apostrophe

Book Pages: 184 Illustrations: Published: August 1992

Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism

Who writes "I"? To whom are autobiographies addressed? What kinds of readers are inscribed in autobiographical narratives? In Apology to Apostrophe, James D. Fernández's offers a lucid and powerful meditation on the nature of autobiographical writing through his investigation of the historical conditions and literary stagings of autobiographical writing in Spain.
As Fernández demonstrates, recent developments in critical theory provide new and fruitful approaches to autobiographical works that have long been neglected, misunderstood, or, in some cases, virtually unknown. Focusing primarily but not exclusively on nineteenth-century Spain, Fernández exposes a rhetorical tension that often occurs in autobiographical discourse, between self-justification, or "apology," and the transcendence of this worldly impulse, or "apostrophe." This tension, he argues, is of particular interest in the case of Spain, but not peculiar to that nation, and his attention to the theoretical nature of autobiography leads to insightfl considerations of many canonical European autobiographies, including those of Saint Augustine, Rousseau, Saint Teresa, and Cardinal Newman.
Considering Spanish autobiography in the context of first-person narrative in Europe and in the terms of current debates on the relationship between writing and selfhood, Apology to Apostrophe marks a significant advance in our historical understanding and critical discussion of the genre. The book will be of great value not only to Hispanists but also to those interested in autobiography and cultural history.


"The subject of Spanish autobiography is still in need of extensive research. Fernández contributes significantly to this enterprise with his intelligent, well-informed, and insightful study of the genre in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. There is no other book that covers this important material and, given the difficulty and the vastness of the topic, there probably will not be another similar book in the future. It will be immensely useful to anyone interested in autobiography. . . . Apology to Apostrophe is a text that will keep underliners busy." — Randolph D. Pope, Washington University in St. Louis

"This book analyzes autobiographical texts, several of them little studied, and does so in an original, thought-provoking way. Autobiography in Spanish letters has, with very few exceptions, been all but ignored. The author takes a significant subject and studies it in a theoretically informed manner. The scholarship is superior." — Noël Valis, The Johns Hopkins University


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