Authors & Events
Oct 05, 2010
| ISBN 9781594484827
Nov 12, 2009
| ISBN 9781101151471
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Oct 05, 2010 | ISBN 9781594484827
Nov 12, 2009 | ISBN 9781101151471
From Augustine’s Confessions to Augusten Burroughs’s Running with Scissors, from Julius Caesar to Ulysses S. Grant, from Mark Twain to David Sedaris, the art of memoir has had a fascinating life, and deserves its own biography. “As Yagoda says: ‘Memoir has become the central form of the culture: not only the way stories are told, but the way arguments are put forth, products and properties marketed, ideas floated, acts justified, reputations constructed or salvaged. How did we come to this pass? The only way to answer that question is to go back a couple of thousand years and tell the story from the beginning,'” which is just what Yagoda does in this “excellent” history (The Washington Post).
From a critically acclaimed cultural and literary critic, a definitive history and analysis of the memoir.From Saint Augustine?s Confessions to Augusten Burroughs?s Running with Scissors, from Julius Caesar to Ulysses Grant, from Mark Twain to David Sedaris, the art of memoir has had a fascinating life, and deserves its own biography. Cultural and literary critic Ben Yagoda traces the memoir from its birth in early Christian writings and Roman generals? journals all the way up to the banner year of 2007, which saw memoirs from and about dogs, rock stars, bad dads, good dads, alternadads, waitresses, George Foreman, Iranian women, and a slew of other illustrious persons (and animals). In a time when memoir seems ubiquitous and is still highly controversial, Yagoda tackles the autobiography and memoir in all its forms and iterations. He discusses the fraudulent memoir and provides many examples from the past?and addresses the ramifications and consequences of these books. Spanning decades and nations, styles and subjects, he analyzes the hallmark memoirs of the Western tradition?Rousseau, Ben Franklin, Henry Adams, Gertrude Stein, Edward Gibbon, among others. Yagoda also describes historical trends, such as Native American captive memoirs, slave narratives, courtier dramas (where one had to pay to NOT be included in a courtesan?s memoir). Throughout, the idea of memory and truth, how we remember and how well we remember lives, is intimately explored.Yagoda’s elegant examination of memoir is at once a history of literature and taste, and an absorbing glimpse into what humans find interesting–one another.
BEN YAGODA teaches English at the University of Delaware, and is the author of four books, including The Sound on the Page and About Town: The New Yorker and the World It Made. He has contributed to Slate.com, the New… More about Ben Yagoda
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