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Mapping LivesThe Uses of Biography$
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Peter France and William St Clair

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780197263181

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197263181.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 30 June 2022

Shaping the Truth

Shaping the Truth

(p.253) 14 Shaping the Truth
Mapping Lives

Miranda Seymour

British Academy

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

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