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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 86 | volume XV | September-October, 2012



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 86September-October, 2012

Confessional writing as portrayed in the works of Augustine, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and Virginia Woolf

p. 1
Nina Mileva

In literature, confessional writing is a first-person writing style that is often times presented in the forms of an ongoing diary entry or a set of personal letters. Confessional writing tends to reveal the personal reflections of the author, the thought processes taking place in their mind, or darker motivations and desires (Online dictionary of literary terms). It is important to note that when it comes to confessional writing, the work is not a mere autobiographical record but often also includes an admission of sins and mistakes committed by the author.
    This paper will aim at exploring the concept of confessional writing as applied to works discussed during the course of Big Books. It will specifically pay attention to three works in particular, namely “Confessions” by St. Augustine of Hippo, “The Underground Man” by Fyodor M. Dostoevsky, and “A Room of One’s Own” by Virginia Woolf. In doing so, it will attempt to locate traces of confessional writing in these three, make a retrospective analysis of how the form and use of confessional writing have evolved through time, and finally the effect and benefit confessional writing has for the author. Additional to the three original works, this paper will use two more works of literary critique and analysis as reference points.
     Augustine’s “Confessions” are often characterized to be the first autobiography of Western Europe. To shortly summarize, in his work, Augustine concentrates on specific instances of his childhood, adolescent, and adult life in order to present to the reader the possible reasons and motivations for his becoming religious. On an autobiographical note, he recalls events of the aforementioned periods with great detail, describing vivid images and thorough explanations. On a confessional note, which will be the one more carefully considered in this paper, Augustine dwells on the mistakes and wrongdoings of his life, narrating extensive repentances and regrets.”The malice of the act was base and I loved it – that is to say I loved my own undoing, I loved the evil in me […] yet in the enjoyment of all such things we commit sin if through immoderate inclination to them (Augustine, 1119).  A specific occurrence that seems to pain him in particular is a pear-theft incident of his childhood. Namely, at an early stage of his adolescence he falls in a bad group of friends and is lured into stealing pears, although he has a perfectly fertile pear tree in his

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