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The Fiction of Autobiography

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Micaela Maftei has produced a study of the autobiographical genre, which includes memoir writing – which in itself is a focused form of autobiography. Anyone working in this genre cannot rely only on writing about the self because life experience mostly involves interaction with other people, and those other people therefore become an important part of the story of any life.

To that extent, the writing of autobiography cannot be devoid of characterisation, any more than it can in fiction, and there are clear parallels between fiction and autobiography because they are both concerned with telling stories.

These stories are going to be about the past because writers of autobiography are exploring and revealing their past experience. However, they cannot tell the whole story of the period in question; they are each only one voice but have to give their own take on the events that form what is in effect the setting for their story.

This whole question of fiction in autobiography is fully explored here.

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