10 Characteristics Of Autobiography, What is an Autobiography?


The autobiography is a story of a life or part of it, told by the person who lived it and from his own perspective.

It shows events that you consider important or fundamental in your life, whether your childhood, adolescence or adulthood. Autobiography is considered a literary genre, often located on the border between history and literature, since it narrates real events but does so from a subjective, authorial approach. It is also related to the biography, the chronicle, the intimate diary and other confessional genres of writing.

Currently there is an important reader market for autobiography, especially that of public personalities, celebrities or famous people in history. In their life stories, they usually look for some kind of teaching, world view or intimate revelation.

10 Characteristics Of Autobiography - What is an Autobiography?

Characteristics Of Autobiography

1. Origin of the term

The first time this term was used was in English: autobiography, in the England of the early 19th century, in an article by the poet Robert Southey. However, other sources accuse the German philosopher Friedrich Schlegel of having used it in his essays in 1789.


2. Background

Before the formal existence of the genre, however, there were already texts of clear autobiographical nature, although they were not titled in that way. These include the Confessions of St. Augustine (351-430 AD), The Life of Teresa of Jesus (1592-1641), Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1798) or Poetry and truth by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe ( 1749-1832).

3. Gender

Within the literary arts, the autobiographical genre, as well as the biographical one, are located among the written works of nonfiction, in the extreme opposite to the narrative fiction, with which it nevertheless shares the prose. It is closer to the journalistic genres, since it is based on a presumption of authenticity in what is related by the person who is autobiography.

10 Characteristics Of Autobiography - What is an Autobiography?

4. Technique

The author, the narrator and the protagonist usually coincide in the autobiographies in the same person. This does not mean that they must necessarily be written in the first person of the singular (“I”), since autobiography, being a literary genre, allows the author all the freedom of the expressive resources of creative writing.

That means that exaggeration, subjective description and, eventually, the fictionalization of certain events, can perfectly find their place in autobiography. Otherwise, the autobiography can be written as its author prefers.

5. Objectivity

From an autobiography, as we have said, a certain fidelity and authenticity of the events is expected, although not so much with respect to the meticulous historical fidelity, as to his very personal approach to the narrated events. This means that in autobiography should not seek accuracy and historical truths, but intimate, subjective truths that have served the author to narrate the relevant events of their own life journey.

In many autobiographies is exaggerated or simply lying, as is the famous case of I need love (1992) delirious autobiography of actor Klaus Kinski.


6. Structure

An autobiography can choose the events to be narrated as it seems best within those lived by the author, starting where he likes and ending at the time he considers appropriate within the arc of events chosen to count. You can start from childhood and advance chronologically into adulthood, you can jump from childhood to old age or you can limit yourself to the events of adolescence.

7. Extension

As in contemporary literary works, there is no extension requirement for autobiography. It can be as extensive as you wish and it can contain the number of chapters that best suits the author.

10 Characteristics Of Autobiography - What is an Autobiography?

8. Differences with the biography

The differences between biography and autobiography are determined by the prefix that heads the second. While the biography requires the writer, who is a different person (cualsea) to the biography, that is as faithful as possible to the reality of life that studies, investigate, investigate and make reviews of sources to find something close to To the truth and to be able to recreate it, the autobiographer does not make greater demands than a minimum of sincerity with respect to his counted life.

9. Differences with memory

Distinguishing between autobiography and the books of memories or confessions is more complicated. Both genres are non-fiction and address the life of the author and narrator, but the autobiography is usually more complete, more comprehensive within the author’s life, while the memories are usually restricted to a specific time or a specific event, without going beyond. Often both terms are used as synonyms.

10. Similarities with the novel

Despite its obvious differences, which have to do with the imaginative nature of the fiction novel, autobiography often shares with it its form, its structure and its stylistic resources, to the point that it is possible to speak of autobiographical novels, it is say, fictional reworkings of the author’s life. The limits between these approaches, in any case, are diffuse.

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