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'Who in the world am I?' Truth, identity and desire in biofictional representations of Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Speculation has long surrounded the relationship between Lewis Carroll and his child-muse, Alice Liddell, with some commentators perceiving it as wholly innocent and others interpreting it as undoubtedly erotic. The two biofictions considered in this chapter – Katie Roiphe’s Still She Haunts Me (2001) and Gaynor Arnold’s After Such Kindness (2012) – participate in this on-going cultural debate but, crucially, refuse to categorise definitively Carroll and Alice’s entwined subjectivities, instead drawing attention to the inherent mutability of identity and the contingency of historical ‘truth’. Fixing their gaze ostensibly on the past, the novels examined here also turn a furtive lens to the present, interrogating contemporary reading practices and our desire for epistemological certainty. This chapter argues that, while challenging readerly assumptions and foregrounding narrative undecidability, Carrollian biofiction cannot avoid the deification of the author-figure, nor escape from its ethical obligations to the historical subjects whose afterlives it shapes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNeo-Victorian Biofiction
Subtitle of host publicationReimagining Nineteenth-Century Historical Subjects
EditorsMarie-Luise Kohlke, Christian Gutleben
Place of PublicationLeiden
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)978-90-04-43435-6
ISBN (Print)978-90-04-43413-4
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sep 2020

Publication series

NameNeo-Victorian Series

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ID: 4187022