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Memoirs

  • ... autobiography at least saves a man or woman that the world is curious about from the publication of a string of mistakes called 'Memoirs.'

    • George Eliot,
    • letter (1876), in J.W. Cross, ed., George Eliot's Life as Related in Her Letters and Journals ()
  • ... a lot of trouble has been caused by memoirs. Indiscreet revelations, that sort of thing. People who have been close as an oyster all their lives seem positively to relish causing trouble when they themselves shall be comfortably dead.

  • You have to take pains in a memoir not to hang on the reader's arm, like a drunk, and say, 'And then I did this and it was so interesting.'

    • Annie Dillard,
    • in Willian Zinsser, ed., Inventing the Truth ()
  • The memoir is an artful dodger, slip-sliding through the facts of autobiography and journalism into the techniques of fiction. It is the most rhetorically dramatic of forms, in the way it shines full-glare lights on some episodes, while others are left in haunting, suggestive shadows.

    • Brigitte Frase,
    • "Wreckage and High Romance," in Hungry Mind Review ()
  • The best way to read a memoir, I have found, is with an open mind, an investigative nose, a psycholinguist's interest in stylistic close reading, and with a shit detector close at hand.

    • Brigitte Frase,
    • "Wreckage and High Romance," in Hungry Mind Review ()
  • Memoir ... satisfies our need for gossip and intimacy, for testimony and confessional, and in this world of spin, offers a truthful account of what it means to succeed or fail, to love and lose, to break your heart and mend it again.

  • I'll be eighty this month. Age, if nothing else, entitles me to set the record straight before I dissolve. I've given my memoirs far more thought than any of my marriages. You can't divorce a book.

  • Buonaparte is certainly writing, or rather dictating, his memoirs. He walks backwards and forwards with his hands behind him, and dictates so fast that two or three of his suite are obliged to be in attendance, that the one may take down one-half of a sentence, and another the rest; they then literally compare notes, and put the disjointed legs and wings and heads of periods together. This is writing a book as he fought a battle.

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • 1817, in the Reverend A.G. L'Estrange, ed., The Life of Mary Russell Mitford, vol. 2 ()
  • The memoir walks a fuzzy line between autobiography, travelogue, essay and diary.

  • This generation has written its memoirs early ...

  • Memoirists, unlike fiction writers, do not really want to 'tell a story.' They want to tell it all — the all of personal experience, of consciousness itself. That includes a story, but also the whole expanding universe of sensation and thought ... Memoirists wish to tell their mind. Not their story.

  • A third volume of Memoirs is really a bold undertaking ... I cannot, like a certain female writer, say, I hope if I have done nothing to please, I have done nothing to offend; for truly I mean to give both pleasure and offense ...

  • Such is the memoir's tone. Noble and touching. But is it sincere? Oh, let's not be petty, seeking sincerity in memoirs doesn't make much sense.

  • Memoirists, unlike fiction writers, do not really want to 'tell a story.' They want to tell it all — the all of personal experience, of consciousness itself. That includes a story, but also the whole expanding universe of sensation and thought ... Memoirists wish to tell their mind. Not their story.

    • Patricia Hampl,
    • "Red Sky in the Morning," I Could Tell You Stories: Sojourns in the Land of Memory ()
  • Any time you try to collapse the distance between your delusions about the past and what really happened, there's suffering involved.