A Contract for Literary Couples and 20th-Century Life Writing

Bloomsbury has offered a contract for “Literary Couples and 20th-Century Life Writing: Narrative and Intimacy.”  This project has been in the works a long time, and has taken on a variety of shapes in my mind.  I’m thrilled it might now actually, finally see the light of day.  (Sidebar:  this post showed up in my Twitter feed this morning, and its take on “Idea Debt” v. “Idea Investment” rang true:  how much time do we spend imagining projects when we could be realizing them?  Time to move on from “binders full of lore” and write this thing!)

Here’s some bits from the proposal, as well as the texts and figures I’ll be considering:

“Literary Couples and 20th-Century Life Writing:  Narrative and Intimacy” looks at stories of intimate lives, focusing on biography and autobiography about and by well-known authors and couples: Virginia Woolf and her family and circle; Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas; D. H. Lawrence and Frieda Lawrence; Sylvia Townsend Warner and Valentine Ackland; Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes; and Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy. By analyzing the ways writers use narrative technique to tell stories of lives and loves in a variety of media and genres, we uncover the importance of storytelling for understanding intimacy. This analysis has wider implications for thinking about love and ethics, as well as for how we grasp storytelling doing significant work in the realm of empathy and empathic thinking.