"Autobiography" Novels

What are all the novels that purport to be autobiographies? I can think of three off the top of my head:

1. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, by Gertrude Stein
2. The Autobiography of My Mother, by Jamaica Kincaid
3. The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, by Ernest Gaines

An Amazon search reveals an "autobiography" of Santa Claus, of Henry VIII, of God, and others. I realize this is a pretty stupid question, but is there an article in a literary studies journal that discusses these? Does writing a fictional autobiography, in addition to allowing the author to experiment with voice and point of view, also allow the author to skewer subtly some of the conventions of autobiography as a genre? I mean, why use "the autobiography of" in the title? Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is a story told from the point of view of Offred, a handmaid (spoken into a tape recorder like Gaines' Pittman), but it isn't called an autobiography. What is gained by the autobiography label?


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Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography

Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography is fabulous. It is a very postmodern (and hilarious) children's book. It seems like I've read about this somewhere, but my brain is too fried to remember where.


When I see fictional books with "autobiography of" in the title, I always think the writer is removing some of the burden of the story off themselves and onto their character. For example, have you ever had someone tell you that the way you remembered something isn't the way it really happened? When the author "lets" the character tell the "autobiography" then it's limited by the character's reality. It creates a feeling that the author is no longer "omniscient" and the character defines the narrative. The character is able to map out the story because they have already lived it. So, rather than being a growth or development story, and autobiography is more of a reflection? Less bidungsroman and more of a novel of introspection? Maybe the author wants readers to know that the character has learned soemthing or wants us to learn something from their life? Very interesting question! I'm not going to be able to concentrate during my tech editing final!

Different "implied author"

...to use Booth's term. Good points, Nae.

Must the title include the word "autobiography?"

For example: Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All: A Novel (by Allan Gurganus)


Nice avatar

Good point in your comment, too, but that avatar steals the show.

Ack, totally forgot

...another one of those, one I've been looking at with interest.

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