Shameful Autobiographies

Rosamund Dalziell
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Shameful Autobiographies
Shameful Autobiographies

Published

8 August 1995

ISBN

9780522848601

Imprint

Melbourne University Press

Shameful Autobiographies

Rosamund Dalziell
This innovative work is about patterns of shame in a range of important Australian autobiographies published between 1960 and 1995.
Writing autobiography is a risky business. What is shameful can be inadvertently rather than deliberately revealed. Yet reading autobiography can also be risky, as it may lead to the confrontation of shame in ourselves.

Perhaps it is this element of risk, together with the magnetism of another person's confession of shameful experience, that make us such avid readers of autobiography.

Rosamund Dalziell proposes that shame is the driving force in many Australian autobiographies. Indeed, she suggests that the representation of shame is fundamental to the autobiographical process. Shame seeks concealment-and this, she argues, explains both why this fascinating link has not before been explored and why, when it is pointed out, we immediately know it to be authentic.

Shameful Autobiographies looks at pervasive patterns of shame in the autobiographies of such leading Australian writers as Germaine Greer, Sally Morgan, Bernard Smith, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Morris Lurie, Ruby Langford Ginibi and Robert…
Writing autobiography is a risky business. What is shameful can be inadvertently rather than deliberately revealed. Yet reading autobiography can also be risky, as it may lead to the confrontation of shame in ourselves.

Perhaps it is this element of risk, together with the magnetism of another person's confession of shameful experience, that make us such avid readers of autobiography.

Rosamund Dalziell proposes that shame is the driving force in many Australian autobiographies. Indeed, she suggests that the representation of shame is fundamental to the autobiographical process. Shame seeks concealment-and this, she argues, explains both why this fascinating link has not before been explored and why, when it is pointed out, we immediately know it to be authentic.

Shameful Autobiographies looks at pervasive patterns of shame in the autobiographies of such leading Australian writers as Germaine Greer, Sally Morgan, Bernard Smith, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Morris Lurie, Ruby Langford Ginibi and Robert Dessaix. In so doing it establishes the centrality of shame to problems of Australian identity and to current political debate—for instance, it is shame that fuels angry repudiations of the so-called 'black armband' view of history.

The calm clarity of Rosamund Dalziell's writing strengthens her powerful insights and arguments, the most potent of which is that autobiographical confrontion with shame can heal deep wounds, both for writers and for readers. This mature and innovative book will enrich the experience of all readers of autobiography.

Rosamund Dalziell

Rosamund Dalziell has a doctorate in Australian Literature from the Australian National University and an MA from Oxford University. She is currently a post-doctoral research fellow at the Centre for Cross-Cultural Research, Australian National University.

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