13 comments on “How Autobiographical is Semi-autobiographical?

  1. Very good question. A good example is Kerouac’s ‘On The Road’, recently published in its unedited, paragraph and chapter free version, with Neal Cassidy, William Burroughs, and Allen Ginsberg’s actual names and not those of their literary replacements. A book that was previously classified as “fiction” (albeit fiction very clearly based on fact) is now, presumably, an autobiography.
    I made a recent stab at writing a book based on my late teens and early 20s, and found it harder to write than anything else I’ve attempted in the last five years.

  2. Yes, David — I’m kind of expecting this to be a tough one to write. That’s why I’ve outlined so thoroughly (twenty-five pages — unusual for me), in the hope that it might ease the pressure somewhat and let me focus on the language. It doesn’t do to get too comfortable, though, right?

  3. Mike: Oh bugger ‘n’ bollocks. I knew that was going to happen. What do you think of Children of the Resolution? (The school is called Resolution School, after Cook’s ship.)

    Thanks for the heads-up, mate. And have fun with Dicky Dawkins! (I’ve got a Christmas treat — tee hee — for Dawkins fans coming up soon, so watch this space ;-))

  4. “Bugger and balls!” was what Michael York said in the episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm with the Tourette’s chef. Excellent stuff.

    I like Children of the Resolution: it has the air of a pun or wordplay about it. I like puns. I feel they get excessively bad press, especially from the excessively bad press…

  5. Nope, “bugger ‘n’ balls” was all my own work. I can tell you’re impressed. Beats you’re “education” non-quote… no?

    Yes, my thoughts exactly (ish). I had toyed with that title early on, then opted for the more obvious variation. It feels right, actually. Children of the Resolution it is, then.


  6. Pingback: Completed Outline. « Gary William Murning Online

  7. there is nothing semi autobiographical. a text is either a “referential” autobiography or an autobiographical fictional autobiography. see Philippe Lejeune’s books.

  8. Thanks, Malik, but that kind of attempt at precision seems rather unnecessary and absured to me, unless you happen to be a French academic. Most people understand semi-autobiographical to mean “autobiographical fictional autobiography” (which is, incidentally, tautological, no?) on some level, but the latter phrase is clumsy and impractical. As for “referential” autobiography, referential to what? The author’s life? The word “autobiography” tells us that already. (Do you mean referential novel?)

    No, for my purposes, “semi-autiobiographical” will do nicely. But thanks for the comment.

  9. Thank u for the explication . I liked the word semi autobiographical, I have never heard about it.
    a lot of writers pretend having no relation with the heros of their novels, which is in many cases just a lie.
    keep up your gtood work

  10. Thank you!

    I think it’s worth mentioning that on some level at least, as you seem to have guessed, every novel has an autobiographical element to it. By the very nature of the novel it’s impossible (or I’ve always found it to be so) not to imbue one’s characters with aspects of oneself. That’s how convincing characters are created. The author uses personal experience and projects it into quite often alien scenarios. In most of my work you would, if you knew me, probably not be able to identify any aspect of my life beyond the trivial similarities. But I’m there, believe me. To one degree or another in every character I’ve ever written.

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