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Definition: autobiography from Philip's Encyclopedia

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 biography


Summary Article: autobiography from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

A person's own biography, or written account of his or her life, distinguished from a journal or diary by being a connected prose narrative, and distinguished from memoirs by dealing less with contemporary events and personalities. The Boke of Margery Kempe (c. 1432–36) is the oldest known autobiography in English.

Forms of autobiography include the confessional, which attempts to make a faithful description of moral weakness and the inner life, as in the influential Confessions of St Augustine (early 5th century) and the Confessions of the French philosopher and writer Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1781); the would-be exemplary, seeking to promote a particular cause or outlook espoused by the writer, as in Mein Kampf, written in the 1920s by the future German dictator Adolf Hitler, or the autobiography of English philosopher John Stuart Mill (1873); and military and political memoirs, intended as contributions to history.

essays

Biography and Autobiography

Describing earliest memories

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