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Biography in Theory

Key Texts with Commentaries

Edited by: Wilhelm Hemecker and Edward Saunders

This textbook is an anthology of significant theoretical discussions of biography as a genre and as a literary-historical practice. Covering the 18th to the 21st centuries, the reader includes programmatic texts by authors such as Herder, Carlyle, Dilthey, Proust, Freud, Kracauer, Woolf and Bourdieu. Each text is accompanied by a commentary placing its contribution in critical context.

Ideal for use in undergraduate seminars, this reader may also be of interest for academic researchers in the areas of literary studies and history aiming to get an overview of historical questions in biographical theory.

This revised and updated English language edition also includes new translations of texts by J. G. Herder and Stefan Zweig, as well as an introductory discussion on the possibility of a ‘theory of biography’.

Note: Due to copyright reasons, the chapter "Sade, Fourier, Loyola [Extract] (1971)" (pp. 175–177) by Roland Barthes could not be included in the ebook.

Combines theoretical texts with commentaries

Ideal for use in undergraduate seminars

Includes new translations of texts by Herder and Zweig

Author Information

Wilhelm W. Hemecker and Edward Saunders, Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for the History and Theory of Biography, Vienna, Austria.


„Sehr gute Auswahl klassischer Texte zur Biographik."
Prof. Dr. Constantin Goschler, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

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Audience: Students and teachers of Literary Studies and History