What It Is Like: Fiction, Fear, and Narratives of Feeling in Posttraumatic Autobiographical Novels

  • Meg JensenEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Life Writing book series (PSLW)


Jensen provides a unique comparison of serial autobiographical fictions written by Virginia Woolf, Vladimir Nabokov, Jack Kerouac, and Julia Alvarez, reflecting on their use of both realism and the imaginative in posttraumatic life storytelling. Focussing on the repetition of key autobiographical moments in their novels, Jensen provides an analysis of the often conflicting viewpoints on those events presented by numerous narrating “bodies” in each of these texts: this point of view narrative strategy, Jensen argues, may be linked to the limbic phenomenon called “Event memory” in which a scene is constructed in memory from a particular point of view. By similarly constructing a figurative witness through a public incarnation of private suffering, these texts can be understood as counter narratives in which imaginative narration redresses old wounds, proposing an alternative narrative of feeling about “what it was like” in the aftermath of trauma.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kingston UniversityKingston upon ThamesUK

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