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TextsContemporary Cultural Texts and Critical Approaches$
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Peter Childs

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780748620432

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748620432.001.0001

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Autobiography: Martin Amis's Experience

Autobiography: Martin Amis's Experience

Approach: Self-Life-Writing

(p.146) Chapter 14 Autobiography: Martin Amis's Experience

Peter Childs

Edinburgh University Press

The study of autobiography has been resurgent in recent decades, and the genre is often now discussed by historians, literary critics and others alongside biographies, memoirs, letters, diaries, and reminiscences – as well as works more conventionally considered ‘history’ or ‘fiction’ -- under the banner of life writing (the term ‘self-life-writing’ is Avrom Fleishman’s). One reason for this is the rise of interdisciplinary areas of study that have found autobiography to be a particularly useful form of writing, and so have accorded it a distinctive place in the study of both authenticity and alterity. In the 1970s, women’s studies, American studies, ethnic and black studies all started to turn to autobiography for voices of ‘experience’ from within, as James Olney sees it. Or, as Martin Amis puts it in his own Experience: ‘what everyone has in them, these days, is not a novel but a memoir. We live in an age of mass loquacity. We are all writing it or at any rate talking it: the memoir, the apologia, the c.v., the cri de Coeur. Nothing, for now, can compete with experience – so unanswerably authentic, and so liberally and democratically dispensed.’

Keywords:   Self-Life-Writing, autobiography, Martin Amis

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