Narrative and Identity: Studies in Autobiography, Self and by Jens Brockmeier, Donal A. Carbaugh

By Jens Brockmeier, Donal A. Carbaugh

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In stories of this kind, it is not amiss to say that the old adage is turned around. If initially the child was father to the man, now (in autobiography) the man reclaims the role of being father to the child — but this time recapturing the child for the culture by the use of the culture’s theories and stories. There is an interesting anomaly here. The theories or stories one constructs about one’s growth and, indeed, about the “stages” along the path of that growth are not verifiable in the usual sense that that term is used.

So, for example, there are narrative devices for indicating what, as it were, is newsworthy — ways of marking, in Burke’s sense, the imbalances in ratio between the elements of the Pentad. , folk psychological) from that which is idiosyncratic and quintessentially agentive. Now an example. Let me present Carl, the eldest brother in the Goodhertz family, the nom de plume we use for our autobiographical family. The example concerns his introduction of one of the leitmotifs in his spontaneously spoken autobiography and occurred when he was a schoolboy.

179) put it. This mingling of the “genres” of narrative, poetry, visual imagination, and spatial representation is particularly interesting for still another reason. It illustrates the historical, and that is variable, character of what makes up a narrative structure. In modern narrative poetry the repetition of pattern and other formal and symmetrical structures that depict the visual, but static, outline of the content have largely given place to the more dynamic pattern of “the story”. It is the sequential, action-oriented and diachronic structure of the story that seems to be more suitable to shape the themes and plots of development, of change, and of progress that become predominant in the nineteenth and twentieth century.

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