Louis-René des Forêts and Inner Autobiography

Series:
Research Monographs in French Studies
Volume:
60
Author: Ian Maclachlan

Louis-René des Forêts (1916–2000) devoted the last twenty-five years of his writing life to an innovative practice of autobiography, spanning poetry and fragmentary prose, and culminating in the key works Poèmes de Samuel Wood (1987), Ostinato (1997) and the posthumously published Pas à pas jusqu’au dernier (2001). Ian Maclachlan’s study is the first to take this innovation in life-writing as its principal focus and to draw out the wider resonances of des Forêts’s distinctive project for the theory and practice of autobiography. Des Forêts’s unusual traversal of genres, formal experimentation, and sparseness of biographical detail give rise to a new mode of abstract, impersonal autobiographical writing. Echoing des Forêts’s own, earlier use of the term autobiographie intérieure in relation to his short-story collection La Chambre des enfants (1960), as well as his friend Georges Bataille’s idiosyncratic notion of expérience intérieure, this novel style of life-writing is explored here under the rubric of ‘inner autobiography’.

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