946 Biography 24.4 (Fall 2001) Jo Burr Margadant, ed. The New Biography: Performing Femininity in Nine- teenth Century France. Berkeley: U of California P, 2000. 308 pp. ISBN 0-520-22140-0, $48.00 cloth; ISBN 0-520-27141-9, $17.95 paper. The New Biography examines the lives of eight French women who achieved celebrity status in the nineteenth century, a time when it was widely believed that women belonged in the private domestic sphere; however, each of these women became a part of the public sphere. These biographical articles are “new” because they propose a postmod- ern methodological approach to the study of people’s lives. Their approach defines culture as relative, and questions the meaning of identity. Following late twentieth century literary critics, these authors believe that individuals construct their identities through language. Each of these eight nineteenth century French women found her own way to construct her identity by naming it, and this construction gave her the possibility of escaping the domestic norm for women created by their culture. Thus, these biographers are not trying to write definitive biographies which tell the essential truth of a unified coherent individual; rather, they are drawing a picture of how the individual attempted to give the illusion
Biography – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Sep 1, 2001
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