Shaping the Truth

Miranda Seymour

in Mapping Lives

Published by British Academy

Published in print September 2004 | ISBN: 9780197263181
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734595 | DOI:

Series: British Academy Centenary Monographs

Shaping the Truth

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Humans who are governed by emotional states have the capacity to establish, develop, and retain different interpretations of the people familiar to them. Hence it is the part of the biographer to examine these untethered interpretations and create from them a portrait that will be identifiable from all angles. A biography cannot present a life in the unclear and multi-faceted form that is its familiar and daily form. A biography in this sense is therefore an illusion. This chapter discusses the challenge of shaping biographies. In it, possible flaws of the biographical genre, including the invasion of privacy to the delivery of truths to one's life story, are considered. The chapter also discusses the standard rules governing the biographer's manner of using confidential information or documents. Particular focus is on the ethics of biography, the rights and the wrongs of presentation of those to whom death affords little protection.

Keywords: different interpretations; biographer; shaping biographies; biographical genre; invasion of privacy; standard rules; confidential information; ethics of biography; rights of presentation; wrongs of presentation

Chapter.  6331 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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