Autobiography studying

autobiography is a work about the life of a person, written by that person. Derived from three Greek words meaning

Autobiography studying

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CONTENTS

 

Introduction1: The Genre of Autobiography2: Linguistic and Extra-linguistic Features of Autobiographical Genre and their Analysis in B. Franklins Autobiography

 

INTRODUCTION

aim of this thesis paper is to determine the linguistic and extra-linguistic features of autobiographical genre. In general autobiography is a work about the life of a person, written by that person. Derived from three Greek words meaning self, life, and write, autobiography is a style of writing that has been around nearly as long as history has been recorded. Autobiography is usually a story one tells about oneself. It would not naturally follow then that the writer would recount his or her past from a second or third person perspective. When authors write about their past, it is not free from emotions. Revealing characters intentions, thoughts, and emotions is another way that the narrator evaluates why events occurred as they did. By explaining what happened in the past, the author is able to express to the reader how the self evolved. The self-now is the person he or she because of the events of the past. Autobiography is a way to organize the story of a life and reflect on the past in order to better understand the present. Autobiography is a genre in which the use of linguistic and extra-linguistic features can be equally observed. Linguistic features are as follows: the category of modality (subjective), the category of retrospection, the first point of view of the author, past perfect, past indefinite, the future in the past tense, and modal verbs. The settings of the narrative, the process of sharing information, situations, and the attitude of the writer are all described as extra-linguistic features used in autobiographical narrative. to this paper is the analysis of the linguistic and extra-linguistic features in the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Benjamin Franklins autobiography is one of the best examples of the autobiographical genre. Franklins book defines itself as an autobiography in its title the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Hes not messing with his audience or changing up the genre-his books not radical in the way at all. Instead, hes helping to set the standard of what an autobiography, is, can, or should be, rather than subverting that standard. As for the structure of this paper it includes two chapters, conclusion and bibliography. The first chapter reveals the peculiarities of the genre of autobiography, what autobiography is in general, and also reviews the research conducted on the genre of autobiography by different scholars. The second chapter begins by laying out the theoretical dimensions of the linguistic and extra-linguistic features of autobiographical genre. In this chapter we have analyzed extracts from the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin from the point of view of their linguistic and extra-linguistic features.

 

CHAPTER 1: THE GENRE OF AUTOBIOGRAPHY

autobiography is a work about the life of a person, written by that person. Derived from three Greek words meaning self, life, and write, autobiography is a style of writing that has been around nearly as long as history has been recorded. The word autobiography was first used deprecatingly by William Taylor in 1797 in the English periodical the Monthly Review, when he suggested the word as a hybrid but condemned it as pedantic; but its next recorded use was in its present sense by Robert Southey in 1809. Yet autobiography was not classified as a genre within itself until the late eighteenth century. In his book, Inside Out, E. Stuart Bates offers a functional definition of autobiography as a narrative of the past of a person by the person concerned (Bates 4). That definition, however, is too broad for some literary critics. Many wish to define the genre more narrowly. Linda Anderson cites that definition of autobiography as retrospective prose narrative produced by a real person concerning his own existence, focusing on his individual life, in particular on the development of his personality (Anderson 1). She also thinks that the work must implicitly state itself to be an autobiography to be included within the genre (Anderson 1). Other scholars, Bates, for example, do not think that there are any limitations or minimums on how much of a life must be revealed for it to be classified as autobiography. Many factual accounts, though not intended to be an autobiography as such, can be categorized as such because they contain a self-revealed personality, after thorough reconsideration (Bates 4). Cataloging autobiographies are further complicated because there are some that are translations and some that are edited. Despite disagreements concerning how inclusive the category of autobiography should be, there are characteristics that are common to the majority of autobiographical works. These features are the grammatical perspective of the work, the identity of the self, and self-reflection and introspection (Berryman 3). The form of autobiography however goes back to antiquity. Biographers generally rely on a wide variety of documents and viewpoints; an autobiography, however, may be based entirely on the writers memory. Closely associated with autobiography is the form of memoir. A memoir is slightly different in character from an autobiography. While an autobiography typically focuses on the life and times of the writer, a memoir has a narrower, more intimate focus on his or her own memories, feelings and emotions. Memoirs have often been written by politicians or military leaders as a way to record and publish an account of their public exploits. Memoir comes from Latin word memoria meaning memory. A memoir is an evolution of the autobiography. An autobiography is a story written by oneself about one life. Most autobiographies are written from the first person singular perspective. This is fitting because autobiography is usually a story one tells about oneself. It would not naturally follow then that the writer would recount his or her past from a second or third person perspective. Jean Quigley confirms this point in her book The Grammar of Autobiography by saying that as soon as we are asked about ourselves, or are asked to tell our autobiography, we start to tell stories. We tell what happened, what we said, what we did (J. Quigley 6). The author, the narrator, and the protagonist must share a common identity for the work to be considered an autobiography (Anderson 1). This common identity could be similar, but is not identical. The self that the author constructs becomes a character within the story that may not be a completely factual representation of the authors actual past self (Quigley 6, Porter and Wolf 12). Roger Porter and H.R. Wolf state that Truth is a highly subjective matter, and no autobiographer can represent exactly what happened back then, any more than a historian can definitively describe the real truth of the past (R. Porter and H.R 12). This is due in part to the fact that words are not adequate to fully express memories and emotions. Because autobiography is, as Anderson puts it, a public exposure of the private self, self-accounting and self-reflection are integral parts of the autobiography. The author wants to justify his or her past actions to the reader. Quigley says that a related but not identical narrator and protagonist are integral to the process of self-justification. The author establishes relationships to him or herself in order to show causality. For example, because the narrator and the protagonist are not identical, the narrator has the ability to treat the self as other… create the occasion for self-regard and editing… the distance between self-now and self-then. There is also a relationship between the reader and the author. By judging past actions as right or wrong, the narrator establishes to the reader that they share common norms. The narrator speaking in the autobiography is always moral, even if the protagonist of the narrative is not. This relating is then evaluated socially according to whether actions are appropriate or inappropriate or surprising or normal. Other interactions that the narrator establishes are relationships with other characters in the story. This allows the speaker to present the self as either an experiencer or recipient of actions, where the self is seen as an objective static entity. The speaker may narrate an event in such a way that the self does not have to accept the responsibility for the outcome. It can be described as happening to the protagonist because of the actions of others. Autobiography is a form of introspection. When authors write about their past, it is not free from emotions. Revealing characters intentions, thoughts, and emotions is another way that the narrator evaluates why events occurred as they did. By explaining what happened in the past, the author is able to express to the reader how the self evolved. The self- now is the person he or she is because of the events of the past. Autobiography is a popular genre. Writers of memoirs and life stories never lack an audience. Anderson says that Autobiography is a form of witnessing which matters to others. People are interested in the actual lives of others and want to know about others pasts and feelings and desires. A quote from Olney in Andersons book reveals the appeal of autobiography. Olney says The explanation for the special appeal of autobiography is a fascination with the self and its profound, its endless mysteries (Olney J. 9). Autobiography is a way to organize the story of a life and reflect on the past in order to better understand the present. One of the first great autobiographies of the Renaissance is that of the sculptor and goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini (1500-1571), written between 1556 and 1558, and entitled by him simply Vita (Italian: Life). He declares at the start: No matter what sort

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