Writing the Self: Identity and Autobiography in Aidan Chambers' This Is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn
Palen, T. van der
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This Is All is a novel by acclaimed Young Adult author Aidan Chambers and has an autodiegetic narrator who tells the story of her teenage years in diary fragments, notes, and autobiographical narrative. This paper argues that the novel merely poses as a traditional, realist, albeit fictional, autobiographical document which puts its trust in language as a medium for the self. On closer inspection it undermines conventional conceptions of identity and autobiography by calling into question language as a mediator of experience and the self, as well as the unity of identity, which may, on the contrary, be both fragmented and subconsciously motivated. While This Is All appears to deal with a character representing herself authentically in language, then, it simultaneously echoes postmodernist and poststructuralist anxieties with regard to language and identity as combined in self-writing, ultimately undermining the novel’s supposed certainties.