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By Linda Anderson

This can be a fantastic technique to get what's going with autobiography as a style and an strategy.

Especially robust in bringing the reader throughout the ancients and into the postmoderns.

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Additional resources for Autobiography (The New Critical Idiom)

Sample text

But is special ill Tempered to be sure, tho’ I think her Health can hardly be mended Sophy is a fine Countenanced well proportioned Girl, of a good disposition and as the old Phrase was of a towardly Wit: Cecilia is lively & forward of her Months, and bids fair to be a bit of a Beauty like her eldest Sister. Hetty was always inclinable to be sandy and so is She, but Hetty has been always exceedingly admired – I wish poor Cicely may have half her Share. (Hyde 1977: 179) In the domestic sphere, Thrale was allotted care of the body, and this extended beyond her children to the men of the household as well.

Significantly, though Boswell presents Johnson as a universal subject whose humanity transcends both class and history, he also clearly characterizes him as masculine. His precocious ‘manliness’ is evident, according to Boswell, when, as an infant, he feels ‘insulted’ by his schoolmistress’ protectiveness and beats her ‘as well as his strength would permit’ (Boswell 1970: 30). 327). That masculinity required this aggressive beating off of the feminine is evident in Boswell’s policing of his own version of Johnson against other memoirists.

The diary was an aide-mémoire, to be turned to retrospectively when ‘remembrance’ had faded (Boswell 1970: 307), but it was also justified artistically as registering a freshness and authenticity of impression which might be lost in subsequent retelling. Boswell’s account of Johnson, for which he copiously reproduced his notes of conversations between them, was, he considered, unique for this reason: mankind was enabled ‘to see him live, and to “live o’er each scene” with him’. According to Boswell, ‘had his other friends been as diligent and ardent as I was, he might have been almost entirely preserved’ (Boswell 1970: 22).

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