This thesis has two components: an exegesis and a creative work.
The purpose of Part A: Introduction is to render more transparent the process by which I arrived at the form, genre, and theme of the creative component, and to establish the ground for Parts C and D. It is a framing device, rather than a strictly hermeneutical text.
The creative component is Part B: The Method Writer. It is a short story cycle of approximately 45,000 words.
In Part C: Scenes from the Middle Distance — On J.M. Coetzee’s Autré-fictions, I discuss notions of writing, truth, and autobiography as they pertain to the writings of J.M. Coetzee. I make reference to Coetzee’s non-fiction and to his trilogy of autré-biographies, Scenes from Provincial Life, and in particular to the third instalment, Summertime. I also discuss Coetzee’s Three Stories (‘A House in Spain’, ‘He and His Man’, ‘Nietverloren’) and several of his novels (In the Heart of the Country, Slow Man, The Childhood of Jesus, and, The Schooldays of Jesus).
In Autofiction as Auto-da-fé I move from Coetzee’s notion of auto/autré-biography to autofiction. I read autofiction as a mode of literary confession that interrogates the author/narrator position, and the novel as a literary form. It does so, I suggest, by drawing attention to the shifting degrees of fictionality deployed in a nominally fictional, or imaginative, text. I illustrate my argument with reference to contemporary works of English language literary autofiction: Luke Carman’s An Elegant Young Man, Ben Lerner’s 10:04, and Rachel Cusk’s Outline and Transit.