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Lydia Ginzburg's ProseReality in Search of Literature$
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Emily Van Buskirk

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780691166797

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691166797.001.0001

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Writing the Self after the Crisis of Individualism

Writing the Self after the Crisis of Individualism

Distancing and Moral Evaluation

(p.26) Chapter 1 Writing the Self after the Crisis of Individualism
Lydia Ginzburg's Prose

Emily Van Buskirk

Princeton University Press

This chapter explains the concept of post-individualist prose as a pointed departure from nineteenth-century Realism. This is a fragmentary, documentary literature that restricts itself to the realm of “fact,” while being free to range outside the conventions of established genres. The post-individualist person's primary dilemma is a crisis in values, and Ginzburg treats writing as an ethical act. The chapter considers how writing serves as an “exit from the self,” a process by which the self becomes another, leaving behind the ego. It then turns to two of Ginzburg's narratives (“Delusion of the Will” and “A Story of Pity and Cruelty”), which concern the dilemmas of moral action in response to the death of a loved one. The traumatized subject uses techniques of “self-distancing” to deal with his or her sense of self and of the past by constructing a complete and responsible self-image, embedded within a social milieu, and then trying to connect it with his or her actions. Ginzburg's techniques of “self-distancing” are examined side-by-side with Shklovsky's concept of ostranenie (“estrangement”) and Bakhtin's vnenakhodimost' (“outsideness”).

Keywords:   post-individualist prose, realism, writing, moral action, self-distancing, Lydia Ginzburg, Russian writers, women writers, Shklovsky, Bakhtin

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