Abstract

In this essay, I take Siegfried Sassoon's prose works as exemplary of a construction of selfhood peculiar to what I call "narratives of hindsight": mid-twentieth-century narratives whose first person narrator is constructed out of two selves—an older self who writes, and a younger whose experience he or she relates—whose dual perspectives overlay and mediate each other, neither ever dominating or achieving authoritative veracity with respect to the other. I argue that this familiar (but historically specific) construction of selfhood-in-time is enabled by, and contingent upon, the rise of photography, whose advent ushers in new ways of relating to our pasts, and to our past selves. More generally, insofar as Sassoon is concerned, I illustrate broader ways in which his compulsive reiteration of his past is mediated through an imagination and a memory which is ineluctably photographic, and I try to show the ways in which his "autobiographies," both "real" and "fictionalized," are indebted, in general and in particular ways, to early photographic images.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-1456
Print ISSN
0162-4962
Pages
pp. 173-193
Launched on MUSE
2007-07-25
Open Access
No
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