The Creaturely Myth

There is—there must be–all the difference in the world between an autobiography and a novel written in the first person.  Are we clear?  Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Living History, for example, has much in common with Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield or even Great Expectations, with the obvious exceptions that the “truth” seems to be fiction, and the fiction seems to be true.  So then, we are not clear.  And possibly an autobiography should be read as though it were fiction—at least, Karl Rove’s narrative should be read as fiction.  And I recommend this approach for one particular reason: The book is much more comfortable to consume as a mythic artifact than as a discursive account of life and politics.

Dickens’ Great Expectations obviously has an ironic title, and to appreciate the point, we have to read the book alertly and even think about what we remember.  Such an approach would not bear fruit with the Rove romance, however.  His book has a title that is the opposite of ironic, whatever that might be.  Courage and Consequence is about neither the one nor the other.  The subtitle is even more anti-ironic: What is a “Conservative” and what is “the Fight”?  No one would learn anything about those questions that she did not bring with her to the text.  I don’t think that the...

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