Before we dive right into the debate of memoir vs. biography, it is imperative to understand what each type of content writing means. While they both fall under nonfictional storytelling, some key differentiators exist between memoir and biography. In this article, we will unravel how each type of these writing has unique qualities. It will be beneficial for you to have a clear idea of memoir vs. biography to ensure your writing is appropriate for each type.
Memoir Vs. Biography
What is a Memoir?
Instead of just giving the facts about their life, a memoir focuses on reflection and creating an emotional connection. In order to tell a personal and dynamic story about the intimate or public events in their lives, the author draws on their own experience. The subject is deliberately narrowed down, and the author’s biography and life timeline are not included unless they are significant and helpful to the plot. Most memoirs are written in the first-person perspective.
What is Biography?
A biography is simply an account of the life of an actual person. It may concern someone who is currently alive, someone who lived centuries ago, who is well-known throughout the world, an unsung hero lost to history, or even a special group of people. Life-changing events frequently take center stage as the author recounts the details of such lives. To paint a complete picture of the subject, the author frequently discusses the subject’s upbringing, relationships, failures, and successes.
Benefits: Memoir Vs. Biography
- It leaves behind a meaningful legacy for generations to feel connected to.
- Since the early 60s, psychologists have been studying the advantages of recalling life with severely depressed patients, rape victims, and traumatized soldiers, with encouraging results.
- Adds meaning to life.
- You can learn about cultures, traditions, and sentiments towards certain subjects.
- Reading about a successful or remarkable person’s true story can inspire, influence, or give encouragement.
- Reading about a successful person’s life can impart valuable life lessons.
- Helps you gain a deeper comprehension of a historical era. Investigates a historical figure’s accomplishments and describe their significance to the past and impact on future events.
Difference Between Memoir and Biography
|Perception||A specific perception or point of view of an individual.||Does not consist of a particular perception.|
|Emotion||Emphasis on individual emotions||Based on Facts|
|Writer||Individual themselves||A third person|
While biographies Revolve Around the Author’s Entire Life, Memoirs Only Cover A Part of The Author’s Life
When comparing memoir vs. biography, other than some exceptional cases, a biography generally aims to be comprehensive, whereas a memoir does not. While some aspects of the biography will receive more attention than others, most of life is typically covered. Memoirists frequently ignore or only briefly summarize the rest of their life while focusing on a particularly significant or fascinating period. Sometimes they will pick a theme or subject and share anecdotes from various aspects of their lives to illustrate its significance to them.
Biographies Are Focused on Famous Individuals, While Memoirs Are Focused on The Subject or Theme
It’s important to understand the psyche behind memoir vs. biography. People who want to learn more about a significant historical figure may read their biography. The desire to learn about a person who influenced American history is probably the main driver, though they may also have heard it’s exceptionally interesting and well-written.
On the other hand, readers who want to read about food, weight, and body image might choose Roxane Gay’s memoir Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body. They might also be drawn to Gay’s online essays and want to read more of her writing. The motivation, in this case, is less about the individual as a historical or cultural figure and more about the subject and style.
Biographies Only Include influential figures who had an impact; However, This Is Not the Case in Memoirs
Nelson Mandela’s biography, Long Walk to Freedom, is an excellent example of a significant individual whose personal account of his life matters due to who he was and everything he accomplished. The Liar’s Club by Mary Karr is a memoir, but it’s not about a famous person; it’s about a regular person’s childhood. Although she had a particularly eventful childhood, it doesn’t stand out because of her fame. Memoirists do occasionally become famous, but typically it’s because they write memoirs.
As A Rule, Biographies Are Written in The Past Tense, Whereas Memoirs Frequently Jump Around in Time
Readers anticipate a biography to start with the author’s childhood or perhaps even the author’s parents’ lives, move through their adolescence and middle age, and end when the book was written. Nonetheless, a memoir vs. biography often treats time much more leniently. For example, Terese Marie Mailhot’s Heart Berries has a structure that is more concerned with theme than chronology and jumps around in time. The book ends with a sense of the significant occasions in Mailhot’s life, though not necessarily in that order.
Memoir Focuses More on The Author’s Interiority and Personal Experience, but Biography Places A Greater Emphasis on Facts and How the Writer Fits in History
Biographies are sometimes regarded as a type of history, and historians use them as primary sources for their research. While both memoir vs. biography have the potential to contain factual errors, the risks are greater for the biographer making notes from history unless they were present at the crucial moments in history. Personalities in biography vs. memoir have historical importance, increasing the book’s importance.
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