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José-Carlos Mainer

The remains of genres: on autofiction and postmodernism URL:

The crisis of the literary genres is something inherent to their own existence, but modernity has provided an essentially creative dimension to this dynamic. As a matter of fact, the two modern genres -novel and essay- were born as transversal  genres, forging their personality from previous ones, and at the same time, their history has been one of permanent crisis. If the narrative of the 19th century was born as a daughter of History (and the associated knowledges like Geography, Law or Sociology), the novel of the 20th century -and its heir along the present first decade- has collected the most abstract echo of Philosophy: anthropological self-perception, the theory of language, and the general theory of knowledge.

Two denominations coming from a distant past were strengthen in the 1980's: metafiction (defined by Linda Hutcheon in 1980) and the auto-fiction (a term applied by Serge Doubrovski in 1977): both recognize in the figure of the author the decisive role as organizer of texts, in the first case, but also as the administrator of the memory that flows through the novel, as a clarifier of the moral sense of the narration. Obviously, the climax of both formulas occurred in parallel to the good health of the autobiographic forms, and with an important constellation of novel writers that emerged in the end of the 1960's. In these conference we will refer to them and some of their Spanish contemporaries: José María Merino, Javier Marías, Antonio Muñoz Molina, Javier Cercas…

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