Literary Couples and 20th-Century Life Writing: Narrative and Intimacy is a study of multimodal narrativity in modernist and late modernist life writing about couplehood, love, marriage, and desire.
“The lens turns from one colorful couple to the next, producing patterns and flashes of connection…An interesting and imaginative book on collaboration, mutuality, and narrative intimacy. Utell may prefer rainbow to granite, but this work nonetheless lays solid foundations for future scholarship on literary love and life writing.” — Hannah Roche, author of The Outside Thing: Modernist Lesbian Romance, in Life Writing (read the full review here [PDF])
“This lively monograph by Janine Utell—who has previously written about James Joyce’s treatments of marriage and desire—contributes to Woolf studies, modernist studies, and life-writing studies.” — Jesse Wolfe, author of Bloomsbury, Modernism, and the Reinvention of Intimacy, in Woolf Studies Annual (read the full review here [PDF])
“Janine Utell’s Literary Couples and 20th-Century Life Writing is a study rooted in the play of oppositions. It illuminates the distance that comes from intimacy, the knowledge that stems from the unknowable, the obscure that hides behind the famous, and the collective identity that depends upon individual subjectivity…Literary Couples is most apparently useful to biographers and scholars who specialize in life writing both within and outside the modernist period because of its rigorous analysis of the methods of biography and the analysis of life writing. It is also of further use to modernist critics invested in using queer theory as an analytical framework.” — Kate Schnur, City University of New York, in Feminist Modernist Studies (read the full review here [PDF])
Exploring life writing by literary couples such as Virginia and Leonard Woolf, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Sylvia Townsend Warner and Valentine Ackland, Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy, and Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, Janine Utell draws on the latest work in narrative theory and the study of intimacy and affects to shed light on the importance of ethics to our understanding of relationality in the modern period. Examining a range of genres and media, from memoir through documentary film to comics, the book demonstrates that stories are essential for our thinking of love, desire and sexuality.