The personal and the political : two memoirs linked by a 10,000 word essay on memoir

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NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. Access is restricted indefinitely. ----- My doctoral thesis sets out to explore memoir in its relatively new, hybrid form. In the two creative, book-length works, which comprise most of my thesis, I have used memoir in similar ways, but to different ends. In The Truth About My Fathers, the memoir component of the work offers cohesion to multiple narratives about different men in my family. Through the use of this form of memoir, I have strived to transform a work of would-be biography into something much more intimate and compelling for the reader. In Wrestling the Dragon, I again use memoir to bring together different narratives: the story of Tibet’s 17th Karmapa; the quasi-mythical tales of his sixteen predecessors; and the modern history of Tibet. The use of memoir in Wrestling the Dragon serves to provide both narrative tension and a more intimate connection between the reader and the text. In using the hybrid memoir form with such an esoteric subject as the life and history of a high Tibetan lama, I endeavoured to make his story more accessible and to provide a crucial point of emotional engagement for the reader. In my exegesis, I outline the development of this hybrid memoir form. I suggest that it is borne out of the marriage of ‘the feminine pole of emotional knowledge and the realm of intellect and thought’. This consummation, I assert, is bringing readers back to literary non-fiction in this age in which the humble book must compete with so many other print forms in order to attract the reader’s attention.
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