Fabricating Lives: Explorations in American Autobiography

Herbert Leibowitz, Author Alfred A. Knopf $24.95 (386p) ISBN 978-0-394-57428-8
The strategies and stylistic trademaks of eight famous autobiographers are probed by Leibowitz ( Hart Crane ) in this devastating, witty, incisive portrait gallery. In the author's close readings, Benjamin Franklin consolidated power while seeming to rebel against it; adventurer-romancer Emma Goldman was trapped in repetitions despite her personal credo of eternal change; and Edward Dahlberg, a sensual crank full of imperious self-abasement, projected himself as a saintly fool, a prophetic scourge of the world's follies. In Leibowitz's view, several of his subjects passed themselves off as ``homemade innocents''--Franklin, Richard Wright, ``tricky equivocator'' William Carlos Williams, and Jane Addams, whose adored father is said to have taught her the duties of the ``superior class'' to those less fortunate. Leibowitz does not merely debunk. His complex profiles turn up hidden facets of character and relate them to cross-currents of history and culture. Photos. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1989
Release date: 09/01/1989
Paperback - 386 pages - 978-0-8112-1168-0
Open Ebook - 282 pages - 978-0-307-83052-4
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