Tuesday, September 11, 2012

On autobiography

Works "on one's own writings" emerged as an authentic autobiographical form in the Roman-Hellenistic context. As we have shown above, this form reflected the crucial influence of the Platonic schema, that of the life course of a seeker after knowledge. But an entirely different objective support was found for it in this new context. What we get is a catalog of a man's works, an exposition of their themes, a record of their successes with the public, autobiographical commentary on them (Cicero, Galen and others). It is the sequence of one's own works that provides solid support for perceiving the passage of time in one's own life. The continuity of one's works provides a critical sequential marker for biographical time, its objectification. And furthermore, consciousness of self in this context is not revealed to some general "someone," but rather to a specific circle of readers, the readers of one's works. The autobiography is constructed for them. The autobiographical concentration on oneself and one's own life acquires here a certain minimum of essential "publicness," but of a completely new type. 
(from Bakhtin's Dialogic Imagination, p. 139)

I guess this genre would be one of the ancestors of autoethnographic research on writing.

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