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Memoires and History : A Seventeenth Century Perspective of a Genre

Robert Emory

Emory, Robert, "Memoires and History : A Seventeenth Century Perspective of a Genre", dans Cahiers du XVIIe siècle, 1988, vol. II, 1.

Extrait de l’article

Prior to the seventeenth century, the main purpose for composition of memoirs was an exact narration and explanation of intrigues, negotiations, or military campaigns of national importance, written by illustrious men and women who had personally witnessed them or taken part in them. From its inception in the Middle Ages, the genre had served many purposes : apology or defense of one’s position or activities, a sort of biography with incidental autobiography, a moral treatise, or social commentary, all with the avowed purpose of instructing and enlightening history and exalting the exploits of the individual. Although historical accuracy is the prime factor involved in the narration of events, the genre also has literary interest in that the writer may narrate his personal or political memoirs, but only to the extend that they relate to history in general. Choice, arrangement, and disposition of materials are a matter of personal preference and indicate aspects of the individual’s personality.

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