An autobiography (from the Greek
auton, 'self', bios, 'life' and graphein,
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
essentially more self-justification than introspection. John Henry Newman's
autobiography is his Apologia pro vita sua. Augustine applied the
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.
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