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n Literator : Journal of Literary Criticism, Comparative Linguistics and Literary Studies - Achieving form in autobiography : original research

Volume 35, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0258-2279
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Abstract

This article argues that, unlike biographies which tend to follow patterns based on conventional expectations, salient autobiographies achieve forms unique to themselves. The article draws on ideas from contemporary formalists such as Peter McDonald and Angela Leighton but also considers ideas on significant form stemming from earlier writers and critics such as P.N. Furbank and Willa Cather. In extracting from these writers the elements of what they consider comprise achieved form, the article does not seek to provide a rigid means of objectively testing the formal attributes of a piece of writing. It rather offers qualitative reminders of the need to be alert to the importance of form, even if the precise nature of this importance is not possible to define. Form is involved in meaning, and this continuously opens up possibilities regarding the reader's relationship with the work in question. French genetic critic Debray Genette distinguishes between 'semantic effect' (the direct telling involved in writing) and 'semiological effect' (the indirect signification involved). It is the latter, the article argues in summation, which gives a work its singular nature, producing a form that is not predictable but suggestive, imaginative.


In hierdie artikel word geargumenteer dat prominente outobiografieë vormlike eienskappe ontwikkel wat uniek is aan hulself, anders as biografieë wat gewoonlik patrone gebaseer op konvensionele verwagtinge navolg. Die artikel maak gebruik van idees van kontemporêre formaliste soos Peter McDonald, maar oorweeg ook sienings oor betekenisvolle vormgewing uit die werk van vroeëre skrywers en kritici soos P.N. Furbank en Willa Cather. Hoewel elemente uitgelig word wat hierdie skrywers as grondliggend aan die daarstelling van afgeronde vorm beskou, is dit nie die bedoeling om 'n rigiede werkswyse waaraan die vormlike kenmerke van 'n teks getoets kan word, aan die hand te doen nie. Die bedoeling is eerder 'n appèl om vanuit 'n kwalitatiewe vertrekpunt ingestel te wees op die belang van die vormlike, selfs al kan die presiese aard hiervan nie altyd omskryf word nie. Vorm is deel van betekenis, en hierdie gegewe skep voortdurend nuwe moontlikhede vir die leser se verhouding met die spesifieke werk. Debray Genette, beoefenaar van die Franse genetiese kritiek, onderskei tussen 'semantiese effek' (dit wat direk gesê word in die skryfwerk) en 'semiologiese effek' (die indirekte betekening). Die slotsom waartoe die artikel kom, is dat dit laasgenoemde is wat aan 'n werk 'n eiesoortige aard gee en vorm tot stand bring wat nie voorspelbaar is nie, maar eerder suggestief en verbeeldingryk.

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/content/literat/35/2/EJC163789
2014-01-01
2016-12-10

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