What's the difference between a memoir & an autobiography?

They both seem to be pretty much the same. Is it something technical that separates them? Or is it just two ways of saying the same thing?

3 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    An autobiography, from the Greek auton, 'self', bios, 'life' and graphein, 'write', is a biography written by the subject or composed conjointly with a collaborative writer (styled "as told to" or "with"). The term dates from the late eighteenth century, but the form is much older.

    Biographers generally rely on a wide variety of documents and viewpoints; an autobiography may be based entirely on the writer's memory. A name for such a work in Antiquity was an apologia, essentially more self-justification than introspection. John Henry Newman's autobiography is his Apologia pro vita sua. Augustine applied the title Confessions to his autobiographical work (and Jean-Jacques Rousseau took up the same title). Probably the most famous German autobiography is still Goethe's Dichtung und Wahrheit.

    The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, the first secular biography published in the United States, served as a model for subsequent American autobiographies. African-American autobiography has developed from slave narratives. Frederick Douglass and W.E.B. DuBois both published autobiographies.

    A memoir is slightly different from an autobiography. Traditionally, an autobiography focuses on the "life and times" of the character, while 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. In the eighteenth century, "scandalous memoirs" were written (mostly anonymously) by prostitutes or libertines: these were widely read in France for their juicy gossip. But memoir has another meaning too. The pagan rhetor Libanius framed his life memoir as one of his orations, not the public kind, but the literary kind that would be read aloud in the privacy of one's study. This kind of memoir refers to the idea in ancient Greece and Rome, that memoirs were like "memos," pieces of unfinished and unpublished writing which a writer might use as a memory aid to make a more finished document later on. In more recent times, memoirs are also life stories which can be about the writer and about another person at the same time.

    Modern memoirs are often based on old diaries, letters, and photographs. Although the term "memoir" may have begun to replace "autobiography" in its popular usage, the former term applies to a work more restrictive in scope.

    Until the last 20 years or so, few people without some degree of fame tried to write and publish a memoir. But with the critical and commercial success in the United States of such memoirs Angela's Ashes and The Color of Water more and more people have been encouraged to try their hand at this genre.

    Paul Delaney has coined the term "ad hoc autobiography" to describe an autobiography motivated by the desire to exploit some temporary notoriety. Such autobiographies, often written by a ghostwriter, are routinely published on the lives of professional athletes and media celebrities—and to a lesser extent about politicians. Some celebrities admit to not having read their "autobiographies."

    Mark Twain was probably the first popular person to include photography in his autobiography. He was especially interested and involved on the taking of the pictures to control his photographic persona.

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  • fenn
    Lv 4
    3 years ago

    An autobiography is frequently an prolonged artwork than a memoir, and covers countless the author's existence (as a lot because the time it became written, of route.) A memoir is sometimes very almost one era of the author's existence or one set of reviews. the objective of an autobiography is more desirable typically to set forth the full time-line of a persons existence, while a memoir is frequently more desirable reflective, examining the right results of particular particular events on the guy who writes it.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Memoir is a diary of remarkable moments of he writer who treasures the events in ones life hence the records for keepsake.Autobiography which maybe written by the author himself or another writer about a person's life, his struggle, his achievement and ups and downs. It's something to emulate.

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