Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 11 : 7 July 2011
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.
         S. M. Ravichandran, Ph.D.
         G. Baskaran, Ph.D.
         L. Ramamoorthy, Ph.D.





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Aspects of Autobiography and Biography in
Indian Writing in English


Pauline Das, Ph.D.
K. R. Vijaya, Ph.D.
Amutha Charu Sheela, M.A., M.Phil., M.B.A.

This short volume focuses on some selected autobiographies and biographies written by Indian leaders in English. For a contrast, we also include two essays that deal with the autobiography of a great scientist Charles Darwin and a biography of a great American writer Loyd Douglas.

Autobiography and Biography in Indian Writing in English

Autobiographies and Biographies occupy an important place in Indian Writing in English for various reasons. Indian leaders communicated their worldviews to Indian people using this genre. Gandhi’s The Story of My Experiments with Truth is an excellent example. My Truth by Indira Gandhi is yet another example of communicating the message of an individual to a larger world. Jivansmriti (Reminiscences) of Rabindranath Tagore narrates his early years of life, while in Toward Freedom: the Autobiography of Jawaharlal Nehru Nehru writes to his “own countrymen and women.” Nirad C. Chaudhuri’s The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian, published in 1951, stands apart as a great master-piece, combining personal life experiences with a strong motivated worldview (“the conditions in which an Indian grew to manhood in the early decades of this century” [20th century].

Rationale and Justification for Writing Autobiography

These leaders have also debated on the need or otherwise for writing such works.

Jawaharlal Nehru writes in his Autobiography: “… this account is wholly one-sided and, inevitably, egotistical; many important happenings have been completely ignored and many important persons, who shaped events, have hardly been mentioned. In a real survey of past events this would have been inexcusable, but a personal account can claim this indulgence.”

Gandhi justified writing an autobiography with these words:

But a God-fearing friend had his doubts, which he shared with me on my day of silence. 'What has set you on this adventure? he asked. 'Writing an autobiography is a practice peculiar to the West. I know of nobody in the East having written one, except amongst those who have come under Western influence. And what will you write? Supposing you reject tomorrow the things you hold as principles today, or supposing you revise in the future your plans of today, is it not likely that the men who shape their conduct on the authority of your word, spoken or written, may be misled. Don't you think it would be better not to write anything like an autobiography, at any rate just yet?'

This is only the beginning part of the book. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE BOOK IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.


Pauline Das, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of English
Department of English
Karunya University
Karunya Nagar
Coimbatore - 641114
Tamilnadu, India

K. R. Vijaya, M.A., M. Phil., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of English
Department of English
Easwari Engineering College
Tamilnadu, India

C. Amutha Charu Sheela, M.A., M.Phil., M.B.A.
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences
Sri Venkateswara College of Engineering
Sriperumpudur - 602 105
Tamilnadu, India

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