Mónika Mátay – Henrietta Trádler: The Challenge of Writing Biographies
Biography or life writing surfaced as a new academic discipline lately. During the past three decades a hitherto unknown interest emerged toward it. Biography, as a genre of writing, of course, existed before that, but mostly journalists and writers were involved with it. The great interest in life writing by non academics and the fact that they have been made it respectable arose skepticism on behalf of scholars who considered it unserious narrative genre. Despite their prejudice, historians invented the field for themselves. They defined biography as the study of the life of an individual based on the methods of historical scholarship, with the goal of illuminating what is public from the perspective of the personal. Life writers face various dilemmas when constructing the portrait of an individual:
How to synthesize the information, the data of one’s life while human life is genuinely fragmented?
What position the author of the biography should take, where is the balance between being distant or too close to the chosen hero? Is it useful to reconstruct the life portraits of no name people?
Is it useful to reconstruct the life portraits of no name people?