The Story I Tell Myself: A Venture in Existentialist Autobiography / Edition 2

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Overview

The Story I Tell Myself is an engrossing account of one woman's psychological liberation from a false sense of what she wanted to be, and of the gradual development of a personal philosophy she was willing to live by. Before she finished college, Barnes had shed her religious beliefs, but she kept intact her inbred convictions that life was difficult, that she was accountable for what she made of her life, and that her actions should accord with her own values. She came of age in the era between Virginia Woolf and Betty Friedan, when women were beginning to break away from traditional patterns but primarily as exceptions and only within limits. Barnes recounts how she came to undertake the translation of Sartre and the subsequent battles with publishers and some hostile critics. Taking to heart Sartre's belief that an individual is both the product and the unique expression of his or her period, Barnes describes how she made Existentialism her own -- introducing it in writing, in speaking, and in a television series.
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Editorial Reviews

Gertrude Reif Hughes
Absorbing and satisfying. . . . Gleefully, the biographer releases herself from the demands of her task: 'I hve had enough of twisting. It's time to swing free.' Both the life she is living and the book she has written about have earned her the ride. When you read her tale, I think you'll agree. -- Women's Review of Books
Kirkus Reviews
The translation of Sartre's Being and Nothingness into English in 1955 was the first and perhaps most notable achievement of Barnes's long and scholarly career, on which she reflects in this autobiography. In tracing her career, she provides critical insight into the evolution of her own embrace of existentialism, the acceptance of challenge as the fertile ground of individual choice, as well as "the experience of women who chose to pursue careers in the period between Virginia Woolf and Betty Friedan." Barnes traces her early fundamentalist Christian background and the way in which it naturally led to her interest in philosophy and ethics. This existentialist autobiography expresses her life as the natural outcome of an ongoing involvement with a philosophy that spoke not only to contemporary issues (racism, existential feminism, the right to die) but also to her own need to decry cynicism, to designate "a legitimate goal for ethics," to exalt in what Sartre saw as the right to difference as one of the ingredients of commonality. Barnes describes poignantly the important intellectual trends that have captivated academia over the last four decades. With acrobatic flexibility, she expounds on Sartre and de Beauvoir, on deconstruction, on teaching as a career, and on life in Boulder, Colo. Her views of today's students are insightful, and her humane reflections on relationships (gay and otherwise) and aging are soothing, considering how far into the storm of philosophical life she has gazed. Barnes challenged every aspect of the life expected of her. She never married and has had a single female companion for most of her adult life. She has lived intimately with the universalquestions of our century without losing sight of the stuff of daily life.

While often overly detailed and at times academic, her autobiography does provide an intimate record of our times and of the ongoing issues that challenge us to define ourselves over and over again.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226037325
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/1997
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 370
  • Lexile: 1250L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Recognitions and Acknowledgments
Living with the Century
Apologia for an Autobiography
1. Being a Child
2. Being Educated
3. Conversions and Epiphanies
4. Interlude
5. Engagement with Existentialism
6. Existential Feminism
7. Teaching for a Living
8. Living in the Rockies
9. Making an Ending
Index

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