- Subject(s):English Literature
- Author(s):Midge Gillies
- Available from: June 2009
Critical introductions to a range of literary topics and genres.
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Writing Lives takes as its focus life writing, both autobiography and biography, discussing these genres specifically within the contexts of the lives and literary careers of writers, past and present. In addition to exploring the key characteristics of life writing, the book also examines the relationship between the lives of authors and the influence of these lives both on their own writing and on the reception of their work by contemporary and later readers. The book traces the origins of literary biography from its early roots to its position as a best-selling genre in its own right.
Helps students to address the new assessment objective 4 ('demonstrate understanding of the significance and influence of the contexts in which literary texts are written and received') - worth up to 35% of the A level qualification under new guidelines.
Discussion questions and end-of-section tasks offer an invaluable resource for self study as well as helpful exam preparation.
A mini-anthology of texts and extracts saves teachers time searching for appropriate 'wider reading' texts.
- 1. Reading life writing: The influence of early biographers: Plutarch, Izaak Walton, John Aubrey, Samuel Johnson and James Boswell
- The Victorian approach
- Life Writing and the Second World War
- Women's autobiographical writing
- Family memoirs
- Biographical structure in the twentieth century and key writers
- Ethics and biography
- 2. Approaching the texts: How biographers choose their subjects
- Structuring a life
- New approaches to biography
- Other forms of life writing: letters and diaries, autobiographical fiction
- 3. Texts and extracts: Peter Ackroyd, from Dickens
- Maya Angelou, from I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
- John Aubrey, from Brief Lives
- JG Ballard, from Empire of the Sun and Miracles of Life
- Vera Brittain, from Testament of Youth and Letters from a Lost Generation: First World War, Letters of Vera Brittain and Four Friends
- Elizabeth Gaskell, from The Life of Charlotte Brontë
- Brian Keenan, from An Evil Cradling
- Doris Lessing, from Alfred and Emily
- Primo Levi, from If This is a Man
- Alison Light, from Mrs Woolf and the Servants, Janet Malcolm, from The Silent Woman
- Sylvia Plath, 'Morning Song'
- Plutarch, from Parallel Lives
- James Shapiro, from 1599, A Year in the Live of William Shakespeare
- Zadie Smith and Ian McEwan, from Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers
- Virginia Woolf, from The Diary of Virginia Woolf, volume III, 1925–30
- 4. Critical Approaches: The autobiographical writings of Doris Lessing
- Alfred and Emily
- Critical responses to Alfred and Emily
- 5. How to write about life writing: The writer and the reader
- Different perspectives: comparing texts
- The context of writing: facts and their emphasis
- Your own and other readers' interpretations
- 6. Resources: Chronology
- Further reading
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