Issue Details: First known date: 2012 2012
AustLit is a subscription service. The content and services available here are limited because you have not been recognised as a subscriber. Find out how to gain full access to AustLit

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Inga Clendinnen's Tiger's Eye is a brilliant, if conflicted, work of what I term 'illness life writing' (as opposed to the scientistic terms 'pathography' or 'autopathography'). In fact, no single generic descriptor can do justice to this text, which comprises elements of illness and survival writing, memoir, autobiography, fiction, narrative history, confession and Kunsterroman. As its title suggests, the book exudes a tigerish, agential tenacity; a refusal to succumb to life-threatening illness and its attacks on psychological and physical selfhood. Writing, both before and after the major illness, is fundamental to Clendinnen's agential response, and indeed this survivor narrative claims not only that writing helped to save the author but that illness helped her to become a writer. This later claim, which is never fully clarified, provides the Kunsterroman dimension, though, curiously, the whole issue of 'becoming' itself becomes clouded late in the book where Clendinnen seems to repudiate confessional - indeed all autobiographical - writing and to see the self, especially the agential self, as a fragmentary fiction. This quasi-postmodern view sits uneasily with much of what has come before, and indeed with some of Clendinnen's pronouncements as an internationally acclaimed historian. The essay, which also considers gender issues and the book's shifting account of the mind/body relation, concludes by inquiring what responsibilities survivor illness life writers have to their readers. [Author's abstract]

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y Life Writing vol. 9 no. 4 October 2012 Z1892443 2012 periodical issue 2012 pg. 377-390
Last amended 30 Nov 2012