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The Rise of the Memoir$
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Alex Zwerdling

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198755784

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198755784.001.0001

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Inventing the Family Memoir

Inventing the Family Memoir

Edmund Gosse’s Father and Son

(p.33) 2 Inventing the Family Memoir
The Rise of the Memoir

Alex Zwerdling

Oxford University Press

Edmund Gosse’s Father and Son inspects the traditional, hierarchical family from the son’s critical perspective, in which parents are found flawed, imposing the religious dispensation they unquestioningly profess on their child’s malleable clay. From their perspective, their faith is the one true path. From the Son’s, their confidence takes no account of a nascent independence in their child, who becomes conscious of his growing critical awareness—questioning, testing, finding alternative “faiths” more suited to his nature. Yet the Son’s potential rebellion is contained by a deep reluctance to take a different path, in part because his own secular “vocation” as a writer is as compromised as his Father’s unquestioned faith. Their divergent paths are nevertheless both products of a parallel inability to break with the past.

Keywords:   home, filial piety, honoring parents, secular vocation, religious vocation, generational inspection

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