Running (from) the family toward story

Source document: Brno studies in English. 2010, vol. 36, iss. 2, pp. [171]-189
Extent
[171]-189
  • ISSN
    0524-6881 (print)
    1805-0867 (online)
Type: Article
Language
English
License: Not specified license
Abstract(s)
"During certain hours, at certain years in our lives, we see ourselves as remnants from the earlier generations that were destroyed" (Michael Ondaatje, Running in the Family, 179). This meditation on the contingencies of autobiography and biography employs Susanna Egon and Paul Eakin to unpack the covert trajectory within every family memoir. Using Michael Ondaatje's fragmented and intensely erotic auto/biography, Running in the Family, to frame the generative chaos of inheritance and genealogy, this textual bricolage seeks to subvert the aphoristic essentialism of stories familial and historical. Exploring a parental tale as mirror to Ondaatje's search for his father, this ficto-critical self-portrait examines the hybrid and speculative story of the immigrant, migrant, and displaced family in transition and translation. The ineluctable curse of running within the family while running from the family, avoiding the family even while the story yearns for the family, leads directly to autobiography as fictional exploration. The fiction of the self seeks to translate the peripheral into the tangible. In the course of that metaphrase, the subject examines her own indeterminate site, the shadow source of absence, and the temptations of forgery. Like Ondaatje in Running in the Family, this search for ways to translate a "father" from remnant into chronicle engages with the mystery of bloodline, and how inheritance blurs the clean lines of record. It examines how autobiography becomes less than confession and more than experience, hyperbolized life and altered self-portrait, profile and sketch, archive more than monograph, allegory rather than apologue, slippage and self-delusion. The family as a site of indeterminacy transcends the conventions of both auto and biographical to shadow its own future.
Document
References:
[1] de Man, Paul (2010 [1979]), 'Autobiography as De-facement'. MLN 94(5), 919–30. | DOI 10.2307/2906560

[2] Eakin, Paul John (1985) Fictions in Autobiography: Studies in the Art of Self-Invention. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

[3] Egan, Susanna (1999) Mirror Talk: Genres of Crisis in Contemporary Autobiography. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

[4] Ondaatje, Michael (1982) Running in the Family. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart.

[5] Saul, Joanne (2006) Writing the Roaming Subject: The Biotext in Canadian Literature. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

[6] Spender, Stephen (1951) World Within World: The Autobiography of Stephen Spender. London: Hamish Hamilton.

[7] Wynne, Frank (2006) 'The forger who fooled the world'. 9 May 2010. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2006/08/05/-bavermeer.xml&page=1.