In 1999, American biographer Edmund Morris famously and controversially inserted a fictionalised version of himself into what was expected to be a thoroughly conventional biography of Ronald Reagan. Arguing that the true Reagan could not be depicted through the techniques of orthodox biography, Morris suggested that by virtue of his research he ‘had, in a sense, been there’ throughout Reagan’s life; that he had become in effect Reagan’s ‘döppelganger’. As such, Morris argued, he was well positioned to write a ‘memoir’ of Reagan that drew on this knowledge, fictionalised though the mode of narration was: hence the resultant text, Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan. Morris’s work in Dutch is perhaps the most extreme and radical example of the many ways that biographers may approach the gaps and thresholds of writing another person’s life. This paper explores the techniques used by biographers to surmount these and consider how the failure of these techniques to illuminate his subject spurred Morris to the radical approach found in Dutch.
|Title of host publication||Minding the Gap: Writing Across Thresholds and Fault Lines: The Refereed Proceedings Of The 19th Conference Of The Australasian Association Of Writing Programs, 2014, Wellington NZ|
|Editors||Gail Pittaway, Alex Lodge, Lisa Smithies|
|Place of Publication||Online|
|Publisher||The Australiasian Association of Writing Programs (AAWP)|
|Number of pages||15|
|Publication status||Published - 2015|
|Event||Minding the Gap -Writing across thresholds and fault lines: 19th Australasian Association of Writing Programs Conference - Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand|
Duration: 30 Nov 2014 → 2 Dec 2014
|Conference||Minding the Gap -Writing across thresholds and fault lines|
|Period||30/11/14 → 2/12/14|
Mullins, P. (2015). A New Reality: Writing Across Gaps and Thresholds in Biography. In G. Pittaway, A. Lodge, & L. Smithies (Eds.), Minding the Gap: Writing Across Thresholds and Fault Lines: The Refereed Proceedings Of The 19th Conference Of The Australasian Association Of Writing Programs, 2014, Wellington NZ (Vol. 1, pp. 1-15). Online: The Australiasian Association of Writing Programs (AAWP).