Patricia Duncker is the author of Hallucinating Foucault (winner of the Dillons First Fiction Award and the McKitterick Prize in 1996), The Deadly Space Between, James Miranda Barry and Miss Webster and Chérif (shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize in 2007). She has written two books of short fiction, Monsieur Shoushana's Lemon Trees (shortlisted for the Macmillan Silver Pen Award in 1997) and Seven Tales of Sex and Death, and a collection of essays on writing and contemporary literature, Writing on the Wall. In 2010 she published The Strange Case of the Composer and His Judge (shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger Award 2010 and the Green Carnation Prize 2011). Her most recent novel, the critically acclaimed Sophie and the Sibyl: A Victorian Romance (2015), was also shortlisted for the Green Carnation Award 2015.

A New Special issue of the journal Neo-Victorian Studies 

edited by Armelle Parey and Charlotte Wadoux (University of Caen, France)

Beyond Biofiction: Writers and Writing in Neo-Victorian Media

Victorian authors feature prominently as characters in contemporary biofictions that re-imagine the lives of actual historical figures of the Long Nineteenth Century. As the genre of biofiction has garnered more attention in the last decade, notably with the creation of a book series dedicated to it – Biofiction Studies– this special issue focuses on the representation of Victorian writers, challenging Roland Barthes’s assertion regarding the death of the author and propounding the author’s return as a character in fiction and other media.

Binding together biography and fiction, biographical fiction or biofiction as a scholarly subject per se is still comparatively new, only gathering momentum in the early 2010s. This lack of recognition was mainly due to the generic cross-over entailed by the form itself which was at first considered a subgenre of the historical novel and is still at times subordinated to another genre altogether, namely that of biographies . The recognition of biofiction as a genre in its own right, evolving from “bastard” to “hybrid”, pinpoints the paradoxes inherent to the form. This state of affairs might indeed result from the irreducible hybridity of the genre, which lends itself to various interpretations, as Cora Kaplan has it: “It implies that there is something stubbornly insoluble in what separates the two genres [biography and fiction] and that prevents them from being invisibly sutured; the join will always show.” Biofiction, maybe more than any other form of fiction, is thus ready to acknowledge this “join”, embracing the idea that fiction is nourished by the extra-textual or the ‘real’. The “join” between bio and fiction is arguably most apparent in biofictions of writers, which very often focus on the writer-at-work.

Patricia has contributed an article:

Fan Fictions: Victorian Celebrity Writers and their Contemporary Defenders - Reimagining Henry James and Lewis Carroll

Read Patricia’s article  (Neo-Victorian Studies website)

View the Neo-Victorian Studies website

Afterlives of George Eliot

The most interesting and enjoyable French event this year was a chance to discuss Georges Letissier's new project on the Afterlives of George Eliot in Contemporary Writing. He presented a suggestive comparison, in the Eribia seminar series at the University of Caen, between Eliot's Silas Marner and Claire-Louise Bennett's Pond. Georges is a wonderful speaker, and while I can't reproduce the enjoyment of the seminar there is more to read in the new issue of Neo-Victorian Studies: George Eliot’s Private Lives and Public Persona: The Biofictional Afterlives of a “Master of Pretence” and Versatile Realist.

Georges Letissier (Nantes University, France)

View poster (pdf)

View article on the Neo-Victorian Studies website

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