From a strictly literary point of view, interest in an author’s life is at best irrelevant, at worst heretical. This, at least, was the structuralist doxa. However, the fantasized figure of the author and the narrative of the author's life prove to be inescapable components of his/her achievement. Why does the (supposedly) historical person behind the work arouse such an attraction? What are the strategies authors use to construct their lives and make them meet the readers’ expectations? Revisiting Barthes and Foucault’s ambiguous dismissal of the author, this paper will be mostly theoretical, but special attention will be paid to the early modern period, notably Montaigne.
Sponsored by Renaissances, a collaborative project of the DLCL Research Unit.