World Leaders of the Twentieth Century
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What is a Biography?
There are three types of biography. According to The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms, their definitions are the following:
- 1. Autobiography
- A narrative account of an extended period of some person's life, written by, or presented as having been written by, that person; or the practice of writing such works. Autobiography differs from biography not only in its evidently more subjective narrative point of view but in its inconclusiveness: an autobiographercannot recount her or his own death...
- 2. Biography
- A narrative history of the life of some person; or the practice of writing such works. Most biographies provide an account of the life of a notable individual from birth to death, or in the case of living persons from birth to the time of writing; but some treat the connected lives of paired subjects or of groups (known as ‘group biography’); and since the late 20th century the term has been stretched to cover accounts of non-human subjects such as houses, cities, or commodities, in which case ‘a biography’ really means an intimate or gossipy history.
- 3. Memoir
- A narrative recollection of the writer's earlier experiences, especially those involving unusual people, places, or events. A memoir is commonly distinguished from an autobiography by its greater emphasis on other people or upon events such as war and travel experienced in common with others, and sometimes by its more episodic structure, which does not need to be tied to the personal development of the narrator; however, the terms are often still confounded. Memoirs are supposed to be non‐fictional,
We have all 3 types of biography in our catalog and doing a general keyword search for Hemingway and biography retrieves 78 records. Changing the search to general keyword of biography with Hemingway as an author retrieves only 11 records, which should be autobiography (biography written by Hemingway). Another search change to general keyword of memoir with Hemingway as an authorretrieves only 3 citations. These methods are not failure-proof, but they will retrieve results corresponding to the 3 types of biography.
""autobiography"" The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. Chris Baldick. Oxford University Press, 2008. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. University of Houston-Victoria Library. 17 March 2010
""biography"" The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. Chris Baldick. Oxford University Press, 2008. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. University of Houston-Victoria Library. 17 March 2010
""memoir"" The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. Chris Baldick. Oxford University Press, 2008
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