Biography and Autobiography

James Olney and John Unterecker discuss biography and autobiography in poetry and fiction. Unterecker sees biography and autobiography as inextricable while Olney views the two forms as profoundly different acts. The scholars agree, however, that despite a biographer’s desire to discover objective truth he always injects himself into his writing. The scholars discuss the differences in structure between poetry and fiction and comment on the uses of psychology in biography and autobiography. They conclude by discussing the role of memory in the creation of biographies and autobiographies.

At the time of this interview, Olney, a Fellow at the National Humanities Center (1980-81), was professor of English at North Carolina Central University. Unterecker was professor of English at the University of Hawaii.

This edition of Soundings was conducted by Wayne J. Pond.


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