Thursday, 17 November 2016

The Age of Autofiction

When I was a student, in the deconstruction years ('Have you heard the creed-a / Jacques Derrida? / There ain't no writer / And there ain't no reader'), biographical criticism was very infra dig. Anita Brookner's novels, which seemed to be only about herself ('Julius Herz? - he's me, basically. That's what you mean. And I thought I was making him up!'), were not to be countenanced.

Now, decades later, biography and biographical criticism are back in vogue. It's all biography now, it seems. One hears of the fashionability of 'autofiction' - Ben Lerner, Rachel Cusk, Knaussgard. Brookner always shaped her novels as novels. Beyond that, however, one always knew they were only really about her. And now it is all right. But too late for her.

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