Review by Choice Review
Freadman (La Trobe Univ., Canada) probes the cross-fertilizing relationship between concepts of the human will and autobiographical practice, and in so doing makes an important contribution to the theory of the autobiography genre. Drawing on notions of the will from philosophy, psychology, theology, and contemporary literary theory as they have evolved over time, the author explores the impacts of these constructs on autobiographers' notions of self and narrative. The volume, which scrutinizes texts by writers ranging from St. Augustine to Louis Althusser, is densely textured and erudite and benefits from Freadman's nuanced comprehension of postmodernism and his deftness in articulating its role in the ongoing Western discourse about human volition. Ultimately, Freadman argues for a restoration of authorial agency in understanding personal narrative, and indeed in all forms of authorship. The theoretical elements of the book are more satisfying than the examinations of particular texts, in part because the sheer weight and complexity of the ideas at play seem in places to overpower the autobiographical accounts. Nonetheless, this is a substantial contribution to scholarship that belongs in every academic library supporting work at the upper-division undergraduate level and above. L. Armstrong Central Washington University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.