The Problems of Autobiographies

Autobiographies have been around as long as humans have been around, dating back to ancient cave drawings to how we know autobiographies today as books. The very essence of an autobiography is to tell one’s own life story and usually communicate an important personal statement about life. While many people may say autobiographies are narcissistic and selfish to write about one’s own life, it can also be argued that it is altruistic and honorable. My viewpoint on autobiographies is the latter, due to the fact that readers can gain something in their own life.

Autobiographies are altruistic and self-reflective due to the fact that they offer insight on life and allows the author to delve within themselves for self-realization.

One purpose of an autobiography is to give the reader a first-hand account into the life of the author and to give the reader better insight into how the author’s experiences have shaped them as a person. Furthermore, an autobiography causes the author to record their adventures, tragedies, and dramas of their lives with insights that can be valuable to others.

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The reason why autobiographies are altruistic is because it promotes the reader to see the world in new ways and think in intuitive ways, it serves as a catalyst for empathy, creative, and knowledge.

In Edward Said’s essay, States, he talks about his early childhood in Israel and how the formation of Israel has affected Palestinians over time. He speaks of his own experiences as a Palestinian man with first-hand accounts of daily life in that region of the Middle-East.

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Said speaks about how “The striking thing about Palestinian prose and prose fiction is its formal instability: Our literature in a certain very narrow sense is the elusive, resistant reality it tries so often to represent”, which indicates how much of the Israeli-Palestinian problem is misconceptualized in the media (Said 581). Said’s main purpose for writing his autobiography, States, was to raise awareness for the rest of the world and show them what actually is happening from the Palestinian perspective. As people read through his essay. They were able to learn of the struggles and fears Palestinians went through everyday in Israel.

By learning about the situation people became more aware of the problem and can either relate the issue to their personal life or help make a change. Regardless of what the reader chooses to do, Said accomplishes his goal of educating his audience in the perspective of a Palestinian from Israel. In truth, most great ideas come from taking an idea from one situation, discipline or industry which a person has learned and adapting it to another; one way this is achievable is by reading autobiographies. Lastly, if a person feels that their life story can help, support, or serve as an example for other people, they might want to share their stories in a form of an autobiography.

The other purpose of an autobiography is to give the author an opportunity to revisit his past and look back on certain events and circumstances with the perspective of wisdom and experience that they have acquired over their life. This may be a way the author can reconcile with their past and see what went wrong or well with certain parts of their lives.

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The Problems of Autobiographies. (2021, Sep 14). Retrieved from

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