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Autobiographies

Subject: Literature

(1955), a compilation of previously published autobiographical writings by W. B. Yeats, comprising: ‘Reveries Over Childhood and Youth’ (1915, though actually appearing in 1916); ‘The ...

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World Encyclopedia

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2004
Subject:
Encyclopedias
Length:
61 words

... Narrative account of a person's life, written by the subject. The modern autobiography has become a distinctive literary form. The first important example of the genre was the 4th-century Confessions of Saint Augustine . The modern, introspective autobiography, dealing frankly with all aspects of life, is usually dated from the remarkable Confessions of Rousseau ( 1765–72 ; published 1782 ). See also ...

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A Dictionary of Gender Studies

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2017
Subject:
Social sciences, Sociology, Politics
Length:
105 words

...autobiography A literary genre, providing an account of a person’s life by that person. Because of its potentially intimate and confessional nature, autobiography was for a time regarded as a women’s genre. In the 1970s and 1980s feminist theorists of women’s writing attempted to establish whether women had a particular way of writing autobiography, differently from men, both in terms of thematic emphasis and style. This led to extended engagements with autobiographically divergent writing such as Gertrude Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas ( 1933...

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The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms (4 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2015

...autobiography such as Jane Eyre is a novel disguised as an autobiography, whereas an autobiographical novel such as Sons and Lovers may be understood to be a kind of autobiography in the form of a novel. Not all autobiographies are actually written by their subjects: The Autobiography of Malcolm X ( 1964 ), for instance, was written by Alex Haley on the basis of taped interviews. Such use of a ghost-writer is now common in supposed autobiographies by sports stars and other celebrities. Further reading: Linda Anderson , Autobiography (2nd...

Autobiography

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Heidi E. Bollinger

The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Cultural and Intellectual History

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2013

...Autobiography, 1760–1865 . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988. A thoughtful analysis of the development of African American autobiography, with particular attention to the liberatory qualities of the slave narrative form. Couser, G. Thomas . Altered Egos: Authority in American Autobiography . New York: Oxford University Press, 1989. An examination of the rhetoric of authority in major American autobiographies, informed by poststructuralist theory. Cox, James M. Recovering Literature's Lost Ground: Essays in American Autobiography . Baton...

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The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature (4 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2013
Subject:
Literature
Length:
472 words

... in his Confessions . The earliest known autobiography in English, The Boke of Margery Kemp ( c. 1420 ), recounts the visions of a mystic; John Bunyan made an impassioned record of his spiritual awakening; and there was a strong relationship between autobiography and religion well into the 19th century, particularly among Nonconformists. Many early novels, including Robinson Crusoe ( 1719 ) and Tristram Shandy ( 1759–67 ), declared themselves to be autobiographies. In the greatest verse autobiography, The Prelude (published 1850 ), William...

Autobiography

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Alexander Kazhdan

The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2005
Subject:
History, Early history (500 CE to 1500)
Length:
326 words

... as a genre reached its peak in the 4th and 5th C. Its representatives both secular ( Libanios , Synesios ) and ecclesiastical ( Gregory of Nazianzos ) combined conventional rhetoric and playful exercises with a trend toward revelation of the psyche of the author , his sufferings, and his search for the righteous path; the latter tendency toward sincere confession found an extreme expression in Augustine . Autobiography could be used (e.g., by Nestorios ) for the purpose of self-defense. After this early peak, autobiography disappeared for a long...

autobiography

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The Oxford Companion to English Literature (7 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2009
Subject:
Literature
Length:
660 words

...way of deciding what is truth and what fiction and that therefore autobiography, as distinct from fiction, does not really exist. The modern canon of autobiography looks back to the deeply reflective self‐analysis of St Augustine ( 354–430 ) in his Confessions . The earliest known autobiography in English, The Boke of Margery Kempe ( c. 1420 ), recounts the visions of a mystic; John Bunyan made an impassioned record of his spiritual awakening; and the relationship between autobiography and religion would remain firm well into the 19th century,...

Autobiography

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The Oxford Companion to Australian History

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2003
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
1,295 words

...between autobiography and fiction interestingly recalls the similar ambiguities of the convict memoirs. Historians will continue to assess autobiographies critically for their value as evidence, even while appraising, with greater sophistication, the art and artifice of autobiography as a genre. It is of the nature of autobiography that the story is unfinished: the narrative is a sentence which lacks the full stop of death. The autobiography has a purpose or agenda, even if, in the case of oral life histories, a collaborative one. But autobiography remains...

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A Dictionary of Sports Studies

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2010
Subject:
Social sciences, Society and culture
Length:
253 words

...of the understanding and long-suffering partner. Whatever the production process and principles underlying the making of an autobiography, and the literary merits of the written product, autobiographies can be a valuable source for the study and analysis of sporting cultures and the individual career trajectories of individuals. Even if the autobiography says little about the individual life itself in any credible or reliable way, it can still be a source of understanding of the reading tastes—and so cultural values—of a public; thus Leo Lowenthal's studies of...

Autobiography

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Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619–1895: From the Colonial Period to the Age of Frederick Douglass

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2009
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
2,281 words
Illustration(s):
1

...his autobiography with a journal of his experiences as an ordained minister in Nova Scotia. David George and Boston King , who preached in Nova Scotia but eventually settled in Sierra Leone, also published autobiographies in the 1790s. The first African American writer to use autobiography to its full extent in the fight against slavery was Olaudah Equiano , whose Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African , was published in 1789 . Longer than any previous African American autobiography, Equiano's...

Autobiography

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Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2005
Subject:
History, modern history (1700 to 1945)
Length:
2,390 words

...of the Enlightenment's great autobiographies. Constanzo, Angelo . Surprising Narrative: Olaudah Equiano and the Beginnings of Black Autobiography . Westport, Conn., 1987. Outlines the background to Equiano's remarkable slave narrative. Gusdorf, Georges . Conditions and Limits of Autobiography. In Autobiography: Essays Theoretical and Critical , edited by James Olney , pp. 28–48. Princeton, N.J., 1980. Originally published in 1956, Gusdorf's essay was one of the inspirations for late twentieth-century research on autobiography and posited a strong...

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An Oxford Companion to the Romantic Age

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2009

... . Writing in the Annual Register in 1807 , Robert *Southey described his time as one in which ‘booksellers, public lecturers, pickpockets, and poets become autobiographers’. The ubiquity of the genre can be gauged by the fact that the word ‘autobiography’ was actually coined in 1797 by William *Taylor in the Monthly Review (although Southey's use of the word in the Quarterly over a decade later is more often given precedence). Reviewing Isaac *D'Israeli 's ‘Diaries and Self-Biographies’, Taylor suggested his word was a ‘pedantic...

Autobiography

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Sidonie Smith

The Oxford Companion to Women's Writing in the United States

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2005
Subject:
Literature
Length:
3,894 words

...Nonfiction . William L. Andrews , To Tell a Free Story: The First Century of Afro-American Autobiography, 1760–1865 (1986). Bella Brodzki and Celeste Schenck , Life/Lines: Theorizing Women's Autobiography (1988). David Brumble , American Indian Autobiography (1988). Genaro M. Padilla , The Recovery of Chicano Nineteenth-Century Autobiography , American Quarterly 40 (September 1988): 286–306. Joanne M. Braxton , Black Women Writing Autobiography: A Tradition within a Tradition (1989). Rita Felski , Beyond Feminist Aesthetics: Feminist...

Autobiography

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The Oxford Companion to Italian Literature

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2005
Subject:
Literature
Length:
1,088 words

... in the modern, generic sense of the word originates in the late 18th c., Rousseau's Confessions appearing in 1782–9 , but the two most prevalent forms of writing about the self in the Italian tradition can both be traced back at least to the 13th c.: the spiritual autobiography or confession, often centred around conversion, and the memoir, a record of a professional or public life. The spiritual autobiography looks to St Augustine 's Confessions as its model, but also draws on the flourishing parallel traditions of saints' lives. It finds...

Autobiography

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Susan C. Imbarrato

The Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of the American Enlightenment

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2015

...figure, autobiography attempts to set the record straight and thereby counter false claims and misrepresentations. Former Presidents Adams and Jefferson, for example, recount their family lineage and history, highlight significant achievements, and clarify controversial issues. In doing so, they do not necessarily put an end to criticism but do assert some degree of control over their narratives. Moreover, as the term “autobiography” itself was not coined until the early nineteenth century, an eighteenth-century author often referred to an autobiography as a...

Autobiography

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Black Women in America (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2005
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
8,698 words
Illustration(s):
2

...with limited print runs and strictly regional distribution. Yet autobiography, surely the most ancient genre of literature and memory, possesses profound implications for the creation of new conversations in black women’s history, women’s history, and African American studies. This article presents a small sampling of autobiographies and a preliminary typology. Types of Black Women’s Autobiographies . There are perhaps five clusters, or types, of black women’s written autobiography: (1) historical narratives, (2) memoirs written by and about women...

Autobiography

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The Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2010
Subject:
Religion, Social sciences
Length:
1,989 words

... Autobiographical texts offer a fascinating window onto the intersections of religion and nature in the actual lives of individuals. In particular, the autobiographical concern with moments of change and development over the life-course allows readers and scholars to explore the particular pathways by which nature comes to shape or to possess personal religious meaning. How does the unique trajectory of each individual's life shape her or his construction of religion, nature, and the relationship between the two? How are religion and nature...

autobiography

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Oxford Reader's Companion to Hardy

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2011
Subject:
Literature, Literary studies (19th century)
Length:
2,259 words

... . Shortly after Hardy's death his widow brought out, over her own name, a two-volume biography comprising The Early Life of Thomas Hardy 1840–1891 and The Later Years of Thomas Hardy 1892–1928 , published by Macmillan in November 1928 and April 1930 respectively. The two volumes were reissued together as The Life of Thomas Hardy in 1933 , and it is by that title—also used for the one-volume paperback issue of 1962 —that the work has generally become known. That Hardy himself had contributed much to the project was clear from the first:...

Autobiography

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Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations (5 ed.)

Reference type:
Quotation
Current Version:
2014
Subject:
Quotations
Length:
479 words

... Autobiography Autobiography see also biography Reformers are always finally neglected, while the memoirs of the frivolous will always eagerly be read. Chips Channon 1897 – 1958 American-born British Conservative politician : diary, 7 July 1936 reformers are always memoirs of the frivolous Memoirs of the frivolous An autobiography is an obituary in serial form with the last instalment missing. Quentin Crisp 1908 – 99 English writer : The Naked Civil Servant (1968) autobiography is an obituary obituary in serial form last ...

Autobiography

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Oxford Essential Quotations (6 ed.)

Reference type:
Quotation
Current Version:
2018
Subject:
Quotations
Length:
250 words

... Autobiography see also Biography An autobiography is an obituary in serial form with the last instalment missing. Quentin Crisp 1908 – 99 English writer The Naked Civil Servant (1968) ch. 29 He made the books and he died. his own ‘sum and history of my life’ William Faulkner 1897 – 1962 American novelist letter to Malcolm Cowley, 11 February 1949 I should be trading on the blood of my men. refusing an offer to write his memoirs Robert E. Lee 1807 – 70 American Confederate general attributed, perhaps apocryphal To write one's...

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