“When ‘I’ becomes ‘she’: Writing the biography of Nathalie Sarraute”

Most biographers find themselves confronting the question of how to incorporate “I-documents” into their third-person narratives. This paper will explore the case of the French writer Nathalie Sarraute (1900-99) who was deeply opposed to biography and whose fiction repudiates all third-person narrative. Sarraute’s mini-biographies of herself—produced in response to publisher’s requirements—provide an interesting twist to her parti-pris and raise the further question of her use of accompanying photographs.

Ann Jefferson is emeritus Fellow in French at New College. Her biography of Nathalie Sarraute has recently come out in a French translation. The English version is due out in 2020.