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date: 21 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Starting with Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, the chapter argues that the mimetic concept of portraiture is disturbed at the fin de siècle as it becomes increasingly subjectivized: portraits come to be read as autobiographical; as expressing the artist as well as the sitter. It explores two literary experiments with portraiture: Pater’s variations on the idea of the ‘Imaginary Portrait’; and William Hale White’s creation in The Autobiography of Mark Rutherford of a self-portrait by an imaginary author (who is also in many ways a self-portrait). These and other texts are read as examples of what Stephen Reynolds termed (in 1906) ‘autobiografiction’: a paradigm for a vital strand of modern literature.

Keywords: life writing, imaginary portrait, self-portrait, autobiography, fictionalized authorship, autobiografiction, Wilde, Pater, Mark Rutherford

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