Booking through Thursday: It’s all about me!

November 4, 2009 at 11:57 pm (Memes) ()

btt2Which do you prefer? Biographies written about someone? Or Autobiographies written by the actual person (and/or ghost-writer)?

Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

Though there is something to be said for an autobiography, and the firsthand knowledge and the alluring intimacy it can offer, I tend to prefer biographies written about people. In a biography, the narrative isn’t filtered through the subject’s own ego, and it may be possible to gain a more objective view. Then again, the fascination of a really remarkable autobiographical document, such as The Kid Stays in the Picture by Robert Evans, is something not to be missed. Of course, there is the danger of a biased biographer, but we must learn to pick and choose our sources for reputable biography, considering them as we would any primary and secondary source materials. No matter which you choose to read, you ought to always consider the bias of the writer: What is their purpose in writing this? What story are they telling?

One thing I enjoy about biographies, is the sometimes vast access to documents both public and private, and they way that these become more accessible to a wider public. And the best ones will have various documents written by the subject, providing those intimate glimpses, those “truths” in which we’re so interested.

Of course, I tend to read biographies of people who are centuries dead, which does bias me, as there is little to no chance of a tell-all biography being published!

Some of my favorite biographies: Queen of Scots by John Guy, Madame Sarah by Cornelia Otis Skinner, Mary Queen of Scots by Antonia Fraser, Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman

Favorite autobiographies: The Kids Stays in the Picture by Robert Evans, I’m with the Band by Pamela des Barres

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9 Comments

  1. Kelly said,

    I am so glad you brought up the point of bias playing a part! Excellent! Thank you!

  2. Novroz said,

    I don’t really read biographies

  3. savidgereads said,

    Oh I am the opposite of you and like autobiogs more than biogs but am keen to make a transition and am now deciding just what I am going to try biography wise!

  4. Mae said,

    Antonia Fraser is one of the best biographers out there.

  5. Pam said,

    I’m not a big fan of either but I a interested in the Mary Queen of Scots. Maybe I’ll take a look. :O)

  6. novelinsights said,

    I really need to get around to reading the Duchess of Devonshire one as I do fancy that. Great answer.

  7. Jenny said,

    I like both at different times for different reasons. Not autobiographies exactly but memoirs – I think it’s interesting how people depict themselves and their loved ones, but I do try to read all about them afterward. In that sense, yeah, biographies are better – the biographers have all the good dish! 😛

  8. Abi said,

    Nice response.

  9. pussreboots said,

    Madame Sarah has been on my to be read list for ages. Thanks for the reminder! My post is here.

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