Through the Looking Glass: Writers’ Memoirs at the Turn of the 21st Century provides a detailed and comprehensive study of writer’s memoir and an exploration of the genre’s poetics. It presents the critical history of memoir and develops its own definition of the genre by focusing on such marqueurs as phantasmatism of the pact between writer and reader, (auto)biographism of the space inhabited by the text, syllepsism of the subject, de-totalisation in terms of scope and thematic content, as well as generic khôracity. The study also proposes an original typology of fifteen micro-genres of memoir (i.e. souvenirs d’enfance, souvenirs d’adolescence, falling away memoir, memoirs/scenes from life, patriography, matriography, parental memoir, autrememoir, pet memoir, [auto]pathography, [auto]thanatography, travelogue, periegetic memoir, ekphrastic memoir, and bibliomemoir). Out of over forty memoirs addressed by this study, five writers’ memoirs (by Andrew Motion, Rachel Cusk, Hilary Mantel, Julian Barnes, and J.M. Coetzee, respectively) are addressed in greater detail and thus acknowledged as the genre’s prime specimens.
Robert Kusek is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture at the Institute of English Studies, Jagiellonian University in Kraków. His research interests include life writing genres, the contemporary novel in English, poetics of memory and loss, as well as a comparative approach to literary studies. He is the author of two monographs and several dozen articles published in books, academic journals, and magazines, as well as co-editor of ten volumes of articles, including Travelling Texts: J.M. Coetzee and Other Writers (2014). He also works at the Research Institute of European Heritage at the International Cultural Centre in Kraków.