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Narratives of the Self

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Edited By Pawel Schreiber and Joanna Malicka

This book explores the many interdependencies and crossovers between living and writing, or, in more specific terms, between writers’ lives on the one hand and their literary output on the other. Thematically divided into four major parts, the book focuses on different literary concerns and discusses literary works from the 17 th century to the present day. The first part approaches the issue of autobiography and biography, the second part takes a close look at travel writing, while the third discusses various lives in fiction and the fourth deals with confessional writing.
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Tom Stoppard’s alternative autobiography in Rock ‘n’ Roll

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1. Introduction

In the introduction to his play Rock ‘n’ Roll, Tom Stoppard writes: “In the first draft of the play Jan [i.e. the main character] was called Tomas, my given name, which, I suppose, is still my name. My surname was legally changed when I was, like Jan, unexpectedly ‘a little English schoolboy’” (Stoppard 2006: ix). In this comment, he is balancing on the verge of what Philippe Lejeune calls the autobiographical pact – an implicit agreement between the author and the reader, stating that the work should be referred to the life of the one who wrote it. This particular case is similar to the device Proust uses in the fifth volume of Rememberance of Things Past, where the narrator plays with the suggestion that his name could be the same as the author’s, which, as Lejeune states, gives rise to a slight uncertainty concerning the novelistic (i.e. fictional) or autobiographical character of the text (Lejeune 2001: 39).

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