Autobiography: Essays Theoretical and Critical by James Olney

By James Olney

Professor Olney gathers jointly during this e-book the superior and most crucial writings on autobiography produced some time past decades.

Originally released in 1980.

The Princeton Legacy Library makes use of the newest print-on-demand expertise to back make to be had formerly out-of-print books from the celebrated backlist of Princeton collage Press. those paperback variations protect the unique texts of those vital books whereas proposing them in sturdy paperback versions. The objective of the Princeton Legacy Library is to significantly raise entry to the wealthy scholarly background present in the millions of books released by way of Princeton collage Press due to the fact that its founding in 1905.

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Extra info for Autobiography: Essays Theoretical and Critical

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Autobiography becomes possible only under certain metaphysi­ cal preconditions. To begin with, at the cost of a cultural revolution humanity must have emerged from the mythic framework of tradi­ tional teachings and must have entered into the perilous domain of history. The man who takes the trouble to tell of himself knows that the present differs from the past and that it will not be repeated in the future; he has become more aware of differences than of similarities; given the constant change, given the uncertainty of events and of men, he believes it a useful and valuable thing to fix his own image so that he can be certain it will not disappear like all things in this world.

34 Georges Gusdorj During the Christian centuries of the Western Middle Ages, the penitent, following in the footsteps of Augustine, could scarcely do anything but plead guilty before his Creator. The theological mir­ ror of the Christian soul is a deforming mirror that plays up with­ out pity the slightest faults of the moral personality. The most elementary rule of humility requires the faithful to discover traces of sin everywhere and to suspect beneath the more or less appealing exterior of the individual person the horrid decay of the flesh, the hideous rotting of Ligier Richier's Skeleton : every man is uncovered to reveal a potential participant in the Dance of Death.

Likewise, beliefs in the trans­ migration of souls—beliefs to be found throughout the IndoEuropean sphere—grant to the nodes of temporal existence only a sort of negative value. The wisdom of India considers personality an evil illusion and seeks salvation in depersonalization. Autobiography becomes possible only under certain metaphysi­ cal preconditions. To begin with, at the cost of a cultural revolution humanity must have emerged from the mythic framework of tradi­ tional teachings and must have entered into the perilous domain of history.

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