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First person narratives

     An author always has a good reason for using the first person. Whether he wishes to share his memories with us, to embody the narration or simply to give more credit to a work of fiction, the ‘I’ always stands as a fascinating object of literary analysis…

The art of self-portraits

- William Hogarth
- Norman Rockwell
- Mirror Guy

Image analysis...

Gulliver's Travels

In Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift makes fun of eighteenth century travel books by introducing a fictitious traveler, Gulliver, who tells us about his encounters with strange creatures and countries. Gulliver's first person narrative is introduced by a fake publisher's note which is also written in the first person...

Text and key questions

The Great Mouse Plot

In Boy: Tales of Childhood, Roald Dahl tells us about his youth, focusing on some of his most remarkable childhood memories. A lot of irony is introduced by the first person narrator who describes these scenes with the hindsight of age...

Text and key questions

Writing on the self

Critics and academics tend to draw a line between autobiography and fiction. However, it is sometimes difficult to make such a clear distinction between what is made up and what is not. Here are some short texts written by authors who reflect on their use of the first person...

Texts and key questions

Final task

- Use your smartphone to take an elaborate selfie, then explain in what way the photograph reflects your personality.

- Use your school memories to write a short text/tale in the manner of Roald Dahl.
Further readings

- L’autobiographie et les nouveaux outils de communication
Un texte de Philippe Lejeune

- Je de l’écrivain et jeu de l’écriture, discussion avec Alexis Jenni
Lire la transcription de l'entretien, écouter deux nouvelles lues par l'auteur

- La quête du moi au XVIIIème siècle en Angleterre : des philosophes empiristes aux romanciers
Un article de Marion Lopez

- Hugo Hamilton on memory and fiction
Un texte de Hugo Hamilton

- Narration in the Human Mind
Un texte de Siri Husdvedt

- Living, Thinking, Looking
Une interview de Siri Hustvedt

- The Last Hundred Days
Une interview de Patrick McGuinness
Mise à jour le 12 décembre 2014
Créé le 10 novembre 2014
ISSN 2107-7029
DGESCO Clé des Langues