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Enigmas of Identity$
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Peter Brooks

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691151588

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691151588.001.0001

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2 Egotisms
Enigmas of Identity

Peter Brooks

Princeton University Press

This chapter looks into instances of individual self-obsession and what these have to say not only about persons but also the society or culture in which they must survive. As representatives of the need to write the story of the self in order to understand its identity, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Stendhal (Henri Beyle) both show to a high degree the work of the shaper on the shaped: the presence of the retrospective narrator and creator of the tale of the self. If the self would tell its story to and for itself, that story will end up being as much about the narrator as the narrated, as much about the creator as the created. This instance of egotism, this self-reflexiveness and self dramatization of the speaker, may have to do with the newness, the lack of precedent of their enterprise.

Keywords:   self-obsession, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Stendhal, retrospective narrator, egotism, self-reflexiveness, self dramatization

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