Friday, September 07, 2012

A punchy quote to start an essay with

"To combine imposture with autobiography is surely to create an oxymoron."

- Susanna Egan's first line of her essay The Company She Keeps: Demidenko and the Problems of Imposture in Autobiography, published in the 2004 book Who's Who: Hoaxes, Imposture and Identity Crises in Australian Literature, edited by Maggie Nolan and Carrie Dawson. I'm a bit puzzled about why the Helen Demidenko story was examined in an essay about autobiography, because Demidenko/Darville's controversial book was not an autobiography, it was a novel, and never presented as anything but a work of fiction. One of the most interesting aspects of the Demidenko affair was the exposure of the willingness of the reader and the literary establishment to accept a novel as quasi-autobiographical, and then insist that this misinterpretation should be true, and then chuck a big sulk when this misinterpretation turned out to be not true.

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