This article interrogates the representation of masculine subjectivity in autobiographical
writing. In her book Autobiography Linda Anderson (2001) argues that insofar as
autobiography has been seen as presenting a view of the subject as universal) it has also underpinned the centrality of masculine modes of subjectivity. A critical reading of Joseph Marble's autobiography, Ek, Joseph Daniel Marble (1999), presents a more complex situation. Looking back at his youth as a gangster in a Johannesburg township in the 1970s, Marble is faced inevitably with the discontinuity that exists between his position as a (reformed) adult narrator who recounts the story of his life as a violent teenager. This discontinuity in the subjectivity of the autobiographer is not surprising in the light of the dissemination of the masculine subject across a wide range of intertextual discourses. Marble's macho-masculinity as a young gangster appears to have been constructed as a defence mechanism against the violence which threatened to destroy the integrity of his masculine subjectivity. The young Joseph Marble harnassed violent behaviour and sexual prowess in his attempts to present himself as a unified masculine subject. However, it becomes clear that, as an abused foster child, he resorted to overcompensatory male behaviour in an attempt to veil the insecurities that compromised his sense of self in a hostile environment.