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Interpreting the Self Two Hundred Years of American Autobiography

by Diane Bjorklund

  • ISBN: 9780226054476
  • ISBN10: 0226054470

Interpreting the Self Two Hundred Years of American Autobiography

by Diane Bjorklund

  • List Price: $44.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Univ of Chicago Pr
  • Publish date: 10/01/1998
  • ISBN: 9780226054476
  • ISBN10: 0226054470
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Description: How do ways of explaining one's life vary over time? In this ambitious work, Diane Bjorklund explores the historical nature of self-narrative by examining over 100 American autobiographies published in the last two centuries. Her study includes not only well-known autobiographers such as Mark Twain and Andrew Carnegie but also many obscure ones such as a traveling book peddler, a minstrel, a hotel proprietress, an itinerant preacher, a West Point cadet, and a hoopskirt wire manufacturer.

Paying close attention to the historical and cultural context of each autobiography, Bjorklund shows how different understandings of the self developed. For example, we encounter religious autobiographies (the largest category of self-narrative from 1800-1930), Horatio Alger-style success stories, tales of psychological conflict, and tales of society's influence on an individual. Through Bjorklund's examination of these vivid and intimate accounts, we are able to see the many different ways American writers approach complicated issues of human nature.

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