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Fact and fiction in Gosse's Father and Son.

It has often been assumed that autobiographies are non-fictional attempts by authors to tell the "simple truth" about their lives. And while recent theory of autobiography has raised serious questions about such simple non-fictional autobiographical aims, many early autobiographers, at least ostensibly, felt their autobiographies to be non-fictional works. Edmund Gosse's Father and Son announces itself as non-fiction in the Preface: "At the present hour, when fiction takes forms so ingenious and so specious, it is perhaps necessary to say that the following narrative, in all its parts ... is scrupulously true." It is, he argues, "a document ... a record of educational and religious conditions which ... will never return" (5). In Chapter I he reconfirms the historical accuracy of his book by again calling it a "record" of his conflict with his father (9). But one need not read the book for long to see that the desire for rigid factuality often gives way to one of the exigencies of narrative--metaphor. James Olney, a leading scholar of autobiography, argues that autobiographers, like historians, "organize the events of which they write according to, and out of, their own private necessities and the state of their own selves." They "impose ... their own metaphors on the human past" (36). (1) Gosse himself notices the difficulties of recapturing the facts of the past when he observes that "[t]he life of a child is so brief, its impressions are so illusory and fugitive, that it is as difficult to record its history as it would be to design a morning cloud sailing before the wind" (66). (2)

Therefore, since autobiographers themselves seem to feel the pulls of both fictional and non-fictional impulses, I would like to propose that we consider placing autobiography somewhere in the middle of a fact-fiction continuum as purely neither, partly both. (3) I would like to look closely at Father and Son as an example of an autobiography that while claiming non-fictional status, actually demonstrates its fictionality through its reliance on metaphor. Part of the reason for the need of autobiography to employ metaphor lies in the complex motivations of (especially) Victorian self-writing. Victorian autobiographers seek to create some sort of definition of themselves at a time when the traditional definitions of the human self no longer seem to explain their lives. The metaphorical structures they use for self-definition are, as we shall see in Father and Son, sometimes extremely complex.

The emergence of the self traced by scholars to the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries coincided with a radical questioning of the self by the Victorian age so that Victorian writers, in an effort to regain the sense of meaning and self unity of earlier ages (especially of the Romantics), try to write autobiographies. (4) Many of these autobiographies are stimulated by some sort of disruption in the lives of the autobiographers. A brief selection of Victorian autobiographies and the disruptions that stimulate their creation will illustrate the point: Newman's Apologia, religious conversion; Tennyson's In Memoriam, death of a beloved friend; Meredith's Modern Love, divorce; Mill's Autobiography, rebellion against father and Benthamite doctrine. In other words, violently traumatic disruptions tend to give rise to the sense of ontological disunity that autobiographers seek to repair by writing their lives.

These disruptions come about for different reasons: In Gosse's case, his desire for separation from his father represents flight from a unified system and suggests a willingness to define the self in open-ended terms rather than in terms of unification. This pattern of autobiographical impulse (disruption leading to autobiography) is altered in Gosse's case because rather than fearing, as most autobiographers do, a loss of self-coherence as a result of his division from his source of unity (his father's system of religious belief), he welcomes the separation as a gift of freedom. Like all autobiographers, he strives for self definition, but he rejects the unified self-definition offered by his father's Puritanism. (5) Christian systems like Philip Gosse's allow for little skepticism. All questions are answered by God, and the self does not need to be created because its essence is clearly defined by the God who created it. Self invention, of no importance to Philip Gosse, is vital to his son. But Edmund Gosse's need for self-definition does not lead him to accept a system that explains all. His self-definition, self-invention, is artistic, a self-fashioning, not part of his father's prefabricated, inclusory religious explanation.

The situation in Father and Son is made more complex by the fact that it is both the autobiography of Edmund Gosse and the biography of Philip Gosse, Edmund's father. Gosse uses images of unity to create an impression of his father and images of severance to define himself. Philip Gosse desires the kind of family oneness associated with traditional religious belief and possesses a wider Christian desire to convert the world to the truth of his religious views; Edmund longs for freedom from his father's domineering rage for unity. Ironically, these desires lead to unexpected and in some cases unwanted ends. Philip Gosse's separatist, dissenting sect, the Plymouth Brethren, desires a unified Christian body, but tends paradoxically to be divisive in its demand for absolute singleness of belief. Similarly, in his family and in his scientific work, the elder's desire for unity and purity ironically often creates greater division. The son's yearning for freedom and separation from his father leads him to a much different kind of unity--to a harmony with the fallen world around him and to an acceptance of the contingencies of the world his father's religious system denies. Both father and son insist on one dement of a binary opposition. However, the text works to show that each of these elements contains its opposite within it, so that in seeking one dement each cannot help but bring some form of the other into being. It is this play between oneness and severance, between the son's need to "move forward" into the freedom of modernism and the father's desire to "fly backward" into the unity of the past that is the metaphorical "truth" of Father and Son (9).

The father's desire for Christian unity intensifies at the death of his wife. When she finally begins to fail after a long illness during which the seven-year-old Edmund spends much time at her side, she calls to her husband, "I shall walk with Him in white. Won't you take your lamb and walk with me?" (61). After some confusion, he realizes that his wife wants him to take Edmund's hand and give it to her. Philip Gosse interprets this as a "dedication"; it is now his mortal responsibility to keep Edmund at spiritual oneness with him. As Edmund later remarks: "My mother, in her last hours, had dwelt on our unity in God; we were drawn together, she said, elect from the world, in a triplicity of faith and joy" (70). She frequently repeated the words "one family, one song, One song! one family!" (70). This prayer for unity, interpreted as "prophecy" by Gosse, becomes the guiding light of his life, especially as it affects his son. At her death, Edmund says, his father felt that she had not really died, but merely "passed before us, through a door, into a world of light ... where we three would be particularly drawn together in a tie of inexpressible beatitude" (70; emphasis added). This passage displays Gosse's fantasy of unity, especially in the door image, which recurs in the book. Philip Gosse sees the door as enclosing them in unity, while Edmund's view is less clear. In later scenes he sees the door more as a vehicle of separation rather than as one of unity. Philip Gosse's attempts at providing unity inevitably have the reverse effect, most notably on his son, but in the rest of his life as well. Most of the unifying endeavors of his family life divide his son farther from him, while even his intellectual labors, which also strive for unity and reconciliation, lead inevitably to rejection and division. Edmund seeks to escape his father's system into a realm of freedom from such a limiting design, and Father and Son is a record of this flight. (6)

Philip Gosse's attempts to generate unity among his intellectual peers lead at times to ironic disruptions. A primary example of this desire for intellectual oneness occurs in his attempt to write a book showing that the new discoveries in geology do not necessarily confict with the creation account of Genesis I. His book, he felt, "could heal all the maladies of the age" (87). Edmund summarizes Omphalos as follows: "That there had been no gradual modification of the surface of the earth, or slow development of organic forms, but that when the catastrophic act of creation took place, the world presented, instantly, the structural appearance of a planet on which life had long existed" (86-7). Philip Gosse intended with Omphalos to reunite evolutionist with Biblical literalist, to "take the wind out of Lyell's sails, and justify geology to godly readers of Genesis" (86).

This "universal panacea" did succeed in bringing people together, but only for the purpose of ridiculing its author: "Atheists and Christians alike," Edmund tells us, "looked at it, and laughed, and threw it away" (88-9). This "reconciliation of scripture statements and Geological deductions" found welcome nowhere. Even Philip Gosse's closest friends rejected the book. Darwin said nothing and Huxley scorned. Charles Kingsley, from whom Philip expected appreciation, wrote that he could never "believe that God has written on the rocks one enormous and superfluous lie" (88). Like so many other unifiying gestures of his life, this one leads instead to disruption and severance. His attempts to argue men into the old mode of Puritan thought has a reverse effect, the same effect they have on Edmund. As Edmund says, his father "offended everybody by an enterprize which has been undertaken in the cause of universal reconciliation" (88).

Philip had attempted to write the book only after his original attraction to the "new light" of geology was stymied by his reading of Genesis. About this time he also left London and the fruitful intercourse with scientists. He turned his back on the world, and Edmund describes the move to the country and the writing of Omphalos in terms of separation: "By a strange act of will fulness, he closed the doors upon himself forever" (86; emphasis added). The recurrence here of the door image reinforces the idea that for Philip Gosse, one separates oneself from the world to preserve family unity and purity of self. Edmund, as a member of the world, will struggle against this enclosure and seek to use a door to separate himself from his father's rage for a unifying design. Thus Philip Gosse, dedicated to unity, inadvertently increases discord. A book that aims at reconciliation is doomed from the start, written as it is in an atmosphere of such isolation and disregard for learning. His son uses this portrait of his father not so much to define the author of Omphalos but to describe the world in which the author of Father and Son lived as a child. His father's desire for unity causes him to close his eyes to scientific discoveries. This blindness creates in Edmund a desire to free himself from such limits, even if he has no unified system to replace what is lost. He prefers freedom and potential disunity to a system which provides a unity he cannot believe in.

But it is not through such reversals alone that Philip Gosse creates or encourages the separation he fears. At times, and in strange ways, he unwittingly teaches it to his son. After the death of Mrs. Gosse, for example, the two are left alone to find things to do during the long evenings. Their favorite subject of discussion at these times is murder--an odd subject, one would think, to fascinate so otherworldly a pair. This interest in brutal enactments of separation, especially "violent crime" and particularly in one imaginary tale of homicide and dismemberment, (a "dreadful butcher's business of joints and fragments" [92]) displays the tendency of one aim to bring about its opposite; while insisting on religious unity Philip Gosse creates in his son a desire for the kind of separation he fears--death, literal or theological. That Edmund so loves these stories signals his need for separation and division from his father and from his father's all-encompassing mythology. These images of violent separation, even if not intended by Edmund to be read as we are reading them, suggest at least a subliminal love of death and longing for some mode of escape from his father.

As suggested earlier, Philip Gosse's Puritanism is itself somewhat paradoxically divisive and thus a form of separation. This is illustrated comically in the story of his violent antipathy to holy days. His awareness of the pagan origin of these days and his suspicions of the "popish" nature of even the chief of such days, Christmas (which he calls "Christ's mass" to emphasize its Romishness), increases his opposition to them, so that he would not even allow a day's menu to be changed in their honor. When one Christmas the pitying servants slip young Edmund a slice of plum pudding, the boy's touchy conscience and oversensitive stomach lead him guiltily to reveal the act. His father leads him by the hand and "rake[s]" the "idolatrous confectionery" into the depths of the ash heap. The Puritan's fury for family unity so overwhelms his Christian commitment to build a community of faith, that he cannot bear to feel the slightest connection with the "idolatrous" Christians who surround him. The phrase "idolatrous confectionery" comically underlines Edmund's own ambivalent attitude. (7) On one hand it is a sweet and innocuous pleasantry of life, leading to closeness and contact with other human beings, but in the eyes of his father, through which he is so often forced to interpret the world, it is a symbol of "horrible heathen rites," which leads inevitably to a fall into the wider world and all that is "abominable" (94-5).

Prior to what can be seen as the ultimate separation between Edmund and his father, which does not take place until the final chapter of Father and Son, Edmund discovers a partial way to free his spirit from his father's control. This begins early in the book as Edmund gradually learns to protect part of himself from his father. It commences as he learns, through a series of trivial incidents, of his father's fallibility (33-4). This important revelation is taken inside and stored in a safe place: "There was a secret in this world and it belonged to me and to a somebody who lived in the same body with me" (35). Two things follow: Edmund finds a way to free himself from his father's control, but in so doing he has to divide himself, to create a secret being within. As time goes on, this hidden being allows him to live a double life. He could give, as he says, quoting Archbishop Leighton, a "kind of natural credit" to his father's beliefs without deeply holding them (158). Thus he claims that he "clung to a hard nut of individuality, deep down in [his] childish nature," which he calls his "innate and persistent self" (158). This division within the self creates the possibility for and becomes in a way identified with division from the father. As the rift widens between ostensible self (conforming self) and real self (rebellious self) there is an attendant increase in the division between father and son. And it is a sense of this growing rift that Gosse attempts to create in his autobiography.

In a brilliant observation, Linda Peterson notices that even in his childish artistic productions, Edmund subtly pulls away from his father's desire for unity. As a scientist, Philip Gosse believed in a clear connection between words and things. As he drew and labeled his sea anemones, he assumed a correspondence between the thing he drew and its label. Edmund, on the contrary, childishly copying his father's work, creates parallel structures which were not really anything at all (though they bore a "disconcert[ing]" resemblance to his father's originals), and the accompanying random words related to his inventions only in his imagination. Peterson remarks that the resulting work "disturb[s] ... the harmonious union of word and world that his father's book conceives" (175; emphasis added). Edmund's early literary productions mimic the way his later autobiography will prefer potential contingency and the freedom of no established system to the rigid structures of his father (134 ff). (8)

So far we have seen that the father's desire for unity has a reverse effect on his son, that Edmund structures the book in part around images that suggest these contradictory tendencies. We shall now see more clearly the result of the father's behavior on the attitudes of the son. That Willy feels controlled by his father is clear from a multitude of examples. He frequently sees himself as a helpless bird, "imprisoned forever in the religious system that had caught me ... like a small and solitary bird, caught and hung out hopelessly and endlessly in a great glittering cage" (157). Later he feels like a "bird fluttering in the network of [his] father's will" (229). After he has gone away to school, he is "snared" by letters from his father, "the implacable fowler"; he felt, he writes, "limed by the pen like a bird by the feet" (240). These trapped bird images of course describe not so much his father's imperiousness as his own childhood perception of it. But more important they reflect the state of his desire--to flee the trap and soar to the freedom of which his father lived in fear. These letters from his father he also describes as a "cord drawn tight," a "bearing-rein ... jerking into position the head of the dejected neophyte" (233). Elsewhere he sees himself as trapped in a tower like "Fatima" (161) and "Princess Blanchefleur" or like a "Chinese student in a matriculating box" (115). Willy is trapped by his father's Puritan system; but he so longs for freedom that he is willing to sacrifice the security absolute faith offers. In choosing to "fashion his inner life for himself," he rejects as unsatisfactory the already complete "inner life" Puritanism offers (250).

In addition to creating this sense of entrapment, his father's insistence on rigid unity creates in Edmund strange tastes for things, like the murder stories he shared with his father, involving death. As a child, he tells us, he had an inexplicable love of "funereal poems," especially one volume of "lugubrious effusions" by four eighteenth-century writers (189): "and who," he asks, "shall explain the rapture with which I followed their morality?" Part of the answer, I think, lies in the fact that these poems concern fantasies of separation, albeit extreme, from contact with his father's control. He claims, in fact, that he read lines from "The Last Day" by Edward Young "with a shiver of excitement, and in a sense little intended by the sanctimonious rector" (191). What this sense is he does not reveal. The passage Gosse quotes as follows:
 Father of mercies! Why from silent earth
 Didst thou awake, and curse me into birth?
 Tear me from quiet, ravish me from night,
 And make a thankless present of thy light?
 Push into being a reverse of thee,
 And animate a clod with misery? (191)

These lines can be read as complaining of the "misery," not of sin, but of containment within his father's religious fanaticism: Clearly here Edmund expresses his preference for the nothingness of "night" to the "thankless present" of his father's "light." The poetry engages him in fantasies about the possibility of freedom, even the freedom of death or nothingness, from his father's relentless desire for unity. He has not yet learned to rebel in any overt way, so he disguises his insurrection by reading "acceptable" verses and providing his own childishly subversive interpretations of them.

It is significant that a more substantive form of rebellion (a "landmark" Edmund calls it [192]) comes about during the same period in which he is reading this poetry. He wants to go to "tea and games" provided by a neighboring family of Baptists. His father, disapproving, expresses his views in a manner Willy knows only too well--he decides that they should "lay the matter before the Lord." In an attempt to preserve family unity against influence and adulteration from even the anything but worldly Baptists, the father uses the prayer to announce his unmistakable disapproval. Their heads pressed on the "coffin-like sofa," the father leads the prayer, but Edmund is in no praying mood: "There gushed through my veins like a wine the determination to rebel" (193). After the long prayer the father asks what God has decided: "The Lord says I may go to the Browns," Edmund says (193). Bested at his own game, his father walks out of the room and slams the door. The "coffin-like sofa" suggests not only the deathly atmosphere of the house, but also the form of separation Edmund longs for in the death poetry and murder stories. Edmund's attitude toward such death images is ambivalent--they represent the intellectual death that would be inevitable if he stays with his father's religion, yet they also help excite him to rebellion, showing him a means of escape. His determination to "go to the Browns" spells threatening separation to Philip Gosse and freedom to Edward. The father's slamming the door encloses Edmund in another impotent gesture of enforced unity, but in reality it also divides him a little further, as do other doors in the book, from his father.

Shortly after this rebellion, Edmund goes away to school and notices that with his departure, even to a school run by other Plymouth Brethren, "the rift between my soul and that of my father widened a little more" (206). And it is at the school that the central scene in the oedipal drama of separation occurs, the scene in which Edmund locks the detested school usher in a room: "I drew the door behind me and bolted it, just in time to hear the imprisoned usher scream with vexation.... I was the liberator, the tyrannicide; I had freed all my fellows from the odious oppressor" (215). What is remarkable here is the peculiar form of freedom desired--that of separation. The closed door separates him from the oppressor. A censorious authority figure, the usher becomes a version of Philip Gosse: Edmund's tyrannicide, a thinly disguised parricide. Tellingly, Edmund sees this separation as a movement towards a new kind of unity--that which he would feel with his schoolmates, who until this heroic deed had ignored him entirely: "Surely when they learned that it was I, they would duster around me" (213). This episode enacts Gosse's desire for the separation from his father and the creation of a new kind of unity, less consoling and no longer inclusory, based on fallible human comradeship rather than on the pre-ordained ideal of his father's religion.

The expressions of unity and severance so far explored in this text interlock and correspond with one another, but they also prepare the reader for the two climactic scenes in the book: Edmund's baptism and his de-conversion. Of course in the Christian tradition baptism is symbolic of unity, the spiritual purgation that allows an aspiring Christian to be admitted to Christian brotherhood. When Edmund is ten, Philip manages to persuade the congregation to make an exception to their usual practice of adult baptism and allow Edmund to be baptized. This would, Philip felt, "secure [Edmund] finally, exhaustively, before the age of puberty could dawn, before [his] soul was fettered with the love of carnal things" (138-9). Baptism, the father felt, would solidify "the habits of conformity" that would allow him to "meet the paganizing tendencies of advancing years with serenity" (139). The problem, however, lay with the "hard nut of individuality" (158) Edmund had so carefully preserved. It makes the baptism into a parody of a holy act because the real Edmund, the secret, preserved part, never really enters into the communion of the faithful. (9) Ironically, while Christian baptism is supposed to separate the "born again" man from the "natural" man, Edmund's baptism reinforces his attraction to the natural world.

He tells us that the baptism was the "central event" of his childhood. Everything in his previous life "seemed to have been leading up to it," all that followed "to be leading down and away from it" (145). His narration of the event contains no information about a positive change in his religious life. Instead we receive a humorous, detached description, noting such things as the absurdity of the minister as he tries to flatten out the bubbles of air under his surplice, and the fact that people took "not even the most languid interest" in the "humdrum adults" who were baptized after him (149). He also notes that the chief change his baptism provided was an inflated sense of his spiritual superiority to unbaptized boys at whom he enjoys sticking out his tongue to remind them of their lesser position. Once again we see the father's desire for unity bringing about his son's greater separation from him and the religious doctrines he represents. The fact the Edmund sees this act as central in his life suggests that it leads him most dearly on the path away from his father, despite its intended aim of unifying them.

The other crucial episode in this story of unity and division is the famous de-conversion scene, in which he stands on a sofa and "wait[s] for the glorious apparition" that will make him a Christian forever Of course, the result is not conversion into his father's glorious system but a form of confirmation of his faith in the freedom of the world. As he says, "From that moment forth, my father and I, though the fact was long successfully concealed from him and even from myself, walked in opposite hemispheres of the soul, with the 'thick o' the world between us'" (232). The door separating himself from his father has now become the entire world, and he is now free to fashion his own system of explanation, a modern one, worldly, aesthetic, necessarily incomplete, but free of the older, overly-unified vision of his father. He is now free, in a sense, to write Father and Son. He has left the Puritan past and entered the modern world.

One critic of Father and Son concedes that "sections of the autobiography ... are indistinguishable from fiction" and that even though Gosse skillfully uses in his autobiography "the stylistic devices of autobiographical novels," the reader must "take every precaution to avoid thinking of Father and Son as a work of autonomous fiction" (Pearlman, 19-20). This rhetoric of prophylaxis underscores what I think to be an irrational fear of mixed genres. Gosse's aims are autobiographical, but his methods are deeply fictive: The result is a book that is finally both autobiography and autobiographical novel. On the fact-fiction continuum it should be placed somewhere near Joyce's Portrait and Kingston's Warrior. What we need to take precaution against is not the danger of thinking of autobiography as fictional, but of categorizing too rigidly works that partake of more than one genre.

Avoiding this rigidity releases us from the struggle to place Father and Son generically and allows us to respond to what it is: A work whose aim is to give us a sense of what it was like to be alive during that time when, as Walter Houghton observes, England, like all Europe, "was in a state of transition ... an era of change from the past to the future" (2, 1). Edmund Gosse gives us a metaphorically colored description of life in a household during this transitional time, at the door leading us back into the past or ahead into the future. Perhaps Gosse was right when he said that his book would be "true." Perhaps his truth here has little to do with facts and everything to do with aesthetic invention. Metaphor allows him to create a picture of his life without excessive concern for stiff factuality. And while it is true that the metaphors he uses, of unity and division, suggest the age of transition in which he lived, they also help define him as a human being faced with a choice between his father's ancient, consoling faith in a designed and unified world and a new modern faith in the human ability to create the self without the help of pre-ordained definitions. In Father and Son, he chooses self-invention.

Georgia State University

Works Cited

Arana, R. Victoria. "Sir Edmund Gosse's Father and Son: Autobiography as Comedy." Genre 10 (1977): 63-76.

Cheung, King-Kok. "Imposed Silences in The Color Purple and The Woman Warrior." PMLA 103 (1988): 162-74.

Eakin, Paul John. Fictions in Autobiography. Princeton UP, 1985.

--. "The Referential Aesthetic of Autobiography." Studies in the Literary Imagination 23 (1990): 129-44.

Gosse, Edmund. Father and Son. Norton, 1963.

Gracie, William, Jr. "Truth of Form in Edmund Gosse's Father and Son." Journal of Narrative Technique 4 (1974): 176-87.

Gunn, Janet Varner. Autobiography: Towards a Poetics of Experience. U of Pennsylvania P, 1982.

Gusdorf, Georges. "Conditions and Limits of Autobiography." Autobiography: Essays Theoretical and Critical Ed. James Olney. Princeton UP, 1980, 28.

Houghton, Walter. The Victorian Frame of Mind. Harvard UP, 1957.

Kermode, Frank. The Sense of an Ending. Oxford UP, 1967.

Kingston, Maxine Hong. The Woman Warrior. Vintage, 1977.

Martin, Wallace. Recent Theories of Narrative. Cornell UP, 1986.

Olney, James. Metaphors of Self. Princeton UP, 1972.

Pascal, Roy. Design and Truth in Autobiography. Harvard UP, 1960.

Pearlman, E. "Father and Mother in Father and Son." Victorian Newsletter 55 (1979): 19-23.

Peterson, Linda. "Gosse's Father and Son: The Evolution of Scientific Autobiography." Victorian Autobiography. Yale UP, 1986, 156-91.

Weintraub, Carl J. The Value of the Individual: Self and Circumstance in Autobiography. Chicago UP, 1978.

White, Hayden. Metahistory. Johns Hopkins UP, 1973.


(1.) See White (5-12) and Eakin (3-8) for discussions of the ways in which so-called non-fiction texts use the elements of fiction.

(2.) Some more recent autobiographers also have difficulty placing their work using traditional generic categories. When asked whether her book, The Woman Warrior, was fact or fiction, Maxine Hong Kingston replied that "it's closer to fiction." But The Woman Warrior is classified in bookstores and libraries not with other fiction but among autobiographies in the non-fiction section (Cheung, 173).

(3.) For sophisticated arguments about the genre question in autobiography, see Gunn (3-28 esp.) and Eakin ("Referential").

(4.) See Pascal (36, 39, 47), Weintraub (XV), Martin (&&), and Gusdorf (40) for discussions of this historical trend.

(5.) Kermode argues that "our changing principles of reality ... force us to discard the fictions that are too fully explanatory, too consoling" (161). In a sense this is what Edmund does when he rejects his father's "consoling fiction" of divine unity as untrue to his experience.

(6.) Pascal contends that the autobiographer must seek a design for his story that does not conflict with his perception of "truth."

(7.) Pearlman's essay on Gosse contains an excellent brief discussion of this episode.

(8.) While Peterson's idea supports mine here, the aims of her essay on Gosse are quite distinct from mine. She seeks to demonstrate the parodic and scientific qualities of Father and Son while developing her book's more general thesis about the non-typological nature of Victorian autobiography in general.

(9.) For an excellent discussion of the parodic nature of Father and Son, see Peterson's chapter on Gosse.
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Author:Schmidt, Paul H.
Publication:Nineteenth-Century Prose
Date:Jun 22, 1992
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