Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 February 2021
Since the 1970s, autofiction has come to occupy a place somewhere between the novel and autobiography, disturbing the boundaries of both these forms. Given the proliferation of concepts of autofiction, this chapter does not offer a formal definition, but rather a summary of the development of its forms, the intellectual and social conditions that accompanied this development, and its effects in redrawing the literary landscape. Two broad generations of autofictional writers can be observed: the earlier generation participated in an ‘impersonal’ form of writing in the 1950–60s, then a ‘return of the subject’ in the 1970s, including Roland Barthes’s exploration of more subjective writing, Serge Doubrovsky’s invention of the term ‘autofiction’ in 1977, and similar experiments from nouveaux romanciers such as Marguerite Duras and Alain Robbe-Grillet. The later generation were less marked by the theoretical concerns of their predecessors, and more immersed in the media. Hervé Guibert’s unclassifiable, hybrid works heralded this new generation, and the genre came to greater prominence still with Christine Angot’s work in the 1990s. The dispute between Marie Darrieussecq and Camille Laurens in 2007 illuminates how autofiction had altered the literary landscape, and Chloe Delaume’s work exemplifies some of the latest directions in autofiction.
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