Is It Possible for a Biography to Be Really Impartial?
When we have a discussion about topics that includes literary genres it is very important to start by defining what that genre really is by the definition of standard categories of literary genres.
Our main topic is biography, so our start is from the definition of biography in literary world.
The Biography Genre
Biography belongs to non-fiction common genres. It represents a detailed description of a person’s life which involves person’s experience of these life events. Unlike a profile or curriculum vitae (résumé) which is set of raw date, a biography presents a subject’s life story. Highlighting various aspects of his or her life, including intimate details of experience, and additionally may include an analysis of the subject’s personality. But here comes the part which is very important for our topic “Biographies are usually written by memories of the subject!”
Reliability of the Memories
As we can see from the definition, this is the first important fact with respect to our question: “Is it possible for a biography to be truly impartial” the answer is no! It cannot be impartial because as we all know memories are not a reliable source of information. Because a human being is not able to gather all the memories during his life, usually only those kind of memories which he marked as important for his life.
This implies that, as a writer writes about himself and from memory there is always the possibility that something is exaggerate or impaired, or that because of love or hate towards something or someone, he may give greater importance to some details, but ignore others.
‘Into the Wild’ as a Biography
If we take Jon Krakauer’s book Into the Wild as a great example of a biography that can be truly impartial, we can definitely affirm our statements. We know that the writer has certain connection with the main character Chris McCandless. Both of them had exploring spirit and were in desperate need to be truly autonomous and live their life deliberately. Also one of the main connection between two of them is the person who stands on their way in that attempt-father figure. But as Jon Krakauer said himself “I won’t claim to be impartial biographer.” It is obvious he can’t be impartial. Krakauer sees similarities between the main character Chris and himself, but he makes certain assumptions about Chris’s motivation and desires that he might not otherwise make. Krakauer as well points to his depart from Chris McCandless’s final ideology, which killed him, he finds it difficult to completely extricate himself from the narrative. Jan makes it clear that his authorial presence does interrupt the narrative which draws from his own youthful experiences. From this point of view it is more than obvious that Into the Wild can’t be impartial when the writer has let the facts be diluted with his own passion and experience.
A Man Who’s Passions Leads Him Into the Wild. (01.02.2016.). from https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/682023279
How did Chris McCandless and Jon Krakauer’s fathers age differently. (n.d.). from http://www.gradesaver.com/into-the-wild/q-and-a/how-did-chris-mccandless-and-jon-krakauers-fathers-age-differently-46989/
Krakauer, J. (1996). Into the Wild. United States: Villard.
List of writing genres. (n.d.). from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_writing_genres