The Author Disappearing? Authorial “Surrogates” and Contemporary Self/Other-Writing in Selected Works by Annie Ernaux, Édouard Louis, and Rachel Cusk

Avant, Vol. XII, No. 1,
published under license CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Robert Kusek orcid-id
Department of Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture
Institute of English Studies
Jagiellonian University in Kraków

Received 18 March 2021; accepted 9 September 2021; published 20 September 2021.
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Abstract: The aim of this paper is to investigate various diegetic gestures of deliberate and insistent self-erasure – quite conspicuous in the age of the authors’ glorious “return” and their hyper-visibility – which the essay wishes to identify as testifying to some countertendencies in present-day auto/biographical writing. The return of the author, officially acknowledged in the final decade of the twentieth century, resulted in contemporary writers unanimously and abundantly engaging themselves in narrating their real life stories – the phenomenon which prompted an unprecedented emergence of writers’ auto/biographical narratives at the turn of the twenty-first century. Nevertheless, in recent years this authorial resurrection has also led to the rise of some new forms of self-writing which might be seen not only as a means of expressing one’s dissatisfaction with the present-day auto/biographical boom but also a manifestation of the crisis of both the auto/biographical self and form. These new self-narratives consciously play with the idea of authorship and question the principles of straightforward representation of the historical author in their literary production. The paper will analyse selected contemporary self-narratives (i.e. Annie Ernaux’s Les Années [2008], Édouard Louis’s En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule [2014], and Rachel Cusk’s “Fay” trilogy, which comprises Outline [2014], Transit [2016], and Kudos [2018]) so as to investigate the authors’ “surrogates” and thus the emergence of a new poetics of self/other-writing.

Keywords: author surrogate; autofiction; self/other-writing; Annie Ernaux; Édouard Louis; Rachel Cusk


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