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Thread: Question about Authors "writing themselves into literature"

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    Question about Authors "writing themselves into literature"

    I am currently writing a paper for a college course and I am trying to think of few authors who wrote characters into their literature who are believed to be allegorical references to the author themself. Can anyone think of any? I'm trying to argue that Dashiell Hammett's parable character Flitcraft is an allegorical reference to himself in the Maltese Falcon

  2. #2
    To point out a more obvious example, Charles Dickens writes himself into the character of David in David Copperfield.

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    Neo-Scriblerus Modest Proposal's Avatar
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    I don't know that you want to use the term "allegorical" for this, but there are some great examples and some less than great.

    Zuckerman in Roth's novels is assumed to be a surrogate of the author.
    Levin in "Anna Karenina" is thought to be Count Tolsoy trying to hash out an understanding of a moral man's relationship with serfs.
    Martin Amis writes himself, name and all, into the novel "Money" which is on the Time 100 books since 1920.

    There are many, many examples that I'm sure you'll enjoy reading.

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    Asa Nisi Masa mayneverhave's Avatar
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    Couple off the top of my head.

    Dante Alighieri as poet/pilgrim in The Divine Comedy.
    Proust in In Search of Lost Time (be careful with this one).
    Pushkin as a character himself in Eugene Onegin.

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    Two that spring immediately to mind:

    'Operation Shylock' - Philip Roth

    'Suttree' - Cormac McCarthy
    'Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others.' - Groucho Marx

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by BromSquared View Post
    I am currently writing a paper for a college course and I am trying to think of few authors who wrote characters into their literature who are believed to be allegorical references to the author themself. Can anyone think of any? I'm trying to argue that Dashiell Hammett's parable character Flitcraft is an allegorical reference to himself in the Maltese Falcon
    You could argue that most characters are manifestations of the author.

    But Quartet is basically Jean Rhys and the male character is Ford Madox Ford.

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    Prefers to read Amoxcalli's Avatar
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    Dutch author W.F. Hermans in Au Pair and several other novels.

    I'd have said Dante in the Divine Comedy, but mayneverhave beat me to it.
    Without literature my life would be miserable - Naguib Mahfouz

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    Card-carrying Medievalist Lokasenna's Avatar
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    The principle character of Elwin Ransom in C. S. Lewis' Space Trilogy is essentially Lewis himself, both in terms of character and biography. It's even suggested in one book that Elwin Ransom is a pseudonym for a 'noted Oxford professor' who wouldn't want his identity know.

    They're damn good fun too!
    "I should only believe in a God that would know how to dance. And when I saw my devil, I found him serious, thorough, profound, solemn: he was the spirit of gravity- through him all things fall. Not by wrath, but by laughter, do we slay. Come, let us slay the spirit of gravity!" - Nietzsche

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    Somerset Maugham, is in a lot of his literature I think, but I'm thinking of The Razor's Edge mainly, as I've re-read that recently.
    Last edited by wessexgirl; 02-07-2010 at 08:13 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mayneverhave View Post
    Couple off the top of my head.

    Dante Alighieri as poet/pilgrim in The Divine Comedy.
    Proust in In Search of Lost Time (be careful with this one).
    Pushkin as a character himself in Eugene Onegin.
    But then Dante as Dante, just like Borges as Borges would not be allegorical... And isnt Pushkin mentioned by him, and old member of his family (or it is in Boris Gudonov...)

    Anyways,
    Considering we know nothing about him, some people believe that blind aedo who show up and tell to Ulysses his own story is Homer talking about him.
    There is some arguments that Faust is somehow Goethe.
    Joyce could be Daedelus. Henry Wotton could be Wilde.
    Voltaire places himself in many forms in Candide (his ideas can be seen the dervish, the critic they meet in europe watching a drama, Martin and even Pangloss.)

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    Bibliophile Drkshadow03's Avatar
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    Philip Roth's Operation Shylock. Philip Roth actually writes himself into the book.
    "You understand well enough what slavery is, but freedom you have never experienced, so you do not know if it tastes sweet or bitter. If you ever did come to experience it, you would advise us to fight for it not with spears only, but with axes too." - Herodotus

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    Voice of Chaos & Anarchy
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    It is not allegorical. Nearly all authors use themselves as a model for characters. Hemingway put himself, in some form, into almost all of his novels. Faulkner used his family for the model of the family in The SOund and the Fury andother novels. Umberto Eco used himself as a partial model for character in the Name of the Rose and for parts of the three main characters in Foucault's Pendulum.

    I could also bring up novels that were fictionalized autobiography, but that gets even broader.

    Even when an author does npt use himself as the model for a character, the haracters all come from the experiences of the author and are colored by that experience.

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    Neo-Scriblerus Modest Proposal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lokasenna View Post
    The principle character of Elwin Ransom in C. S. Lewis' Space Trilogy is essentially Lewis himself, both in terms of character and biography. It's even suggested in one book that Elwin Ransom is a pseudonym for a 'noted Oxford professor' who wouldn't want his identity know.

    They're damn good fun too!
    I second The Spaced Trilogy. Great early SF.

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    Kurt Vonnegut as a soldier in Slaughterhouse-5.

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    seasonably mediocre Il Penseroso's Avatar
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    Would post-modern authorial intervention work? Not a character but the author himself in Nabokov's Bend Sinister.
    and somehow a dog
    has taken itself & its tail considerably away
    into the mountains or sea or sky, leaving
    behind: me, wag.
    - John Berryman

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