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Monday, January 17, 2022

Eighteenth Century Autobiography

In the eighteenth century, autobiography was one of the highest forms of literary art. Fiction was deemed unworthy, while narration of facts was aesthetically and philosophically pleasing. This prevailing convention overwhelmed fiction to such a degree that many novelists passed their works off as non-fiction, sometimes by creating prefaces written by supposedly real characters who vouched for the authenticity of the story. Whether readers really believed in the truth of these stories is hard to say.

Preface by W. Lloyd Garrison in Frederick Douglass, The Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave, 1845  

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