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The Biography: One of the Most Unique Genres
The biography is a unique genre of writing and moviemaking. It tells the story of someone’s life, rather than focusing on a particular event or period in history. Yet, through this, it is often possible to get a sense of the culture and general living conditions for those who lived at the same time as the biographical subject.
Writing a biography is quite different from other genres as well. Some writers choose to try to present an unbiased view of their subject, and will research flaws as well as good points so as to be able to address both types of aspects evenly. Other authors choose to present a highly slanted view, either in favour of or against their subject. These types of biographies can be interesting, but one must remember to look for a counterpoint in order to get the whole picture. In any case, the writer must meticulously research their subject. It is not unheard of for writers of biographies to interview the subject’s childhood friends, teachers, and other “long-lost” associations in order to find some titbit of information others haven’t yet written about.
For readers, a biography can give an almost voyeuristic sense of looking at the normally-private aspects of a person’s life. This can give an understanding of the way the subject behaved which is simply not possible by seeing them in the newspapers or in reports on the telly. When the subject is still alive, there is often a lot of material that still doesn’t make it into a biography. If the subject is recently deceased, on the other hand, readers can look forward to having a lot of the mysteries of the person’s life explained. A biography of a historical figure from several decades prior often offers the most accurate information, because historians have had time to separate the facts from the myths. History buffs will likely appreciate this type of biography the most.
A motion picture biography can be one of the most fun kinds of shows to watch, or one of the dullest. When they’re good, they will give viewers a sense of almost being in the same room as the subject; it’s like the viewer is actually watching the protagonist’s day-to-day life and reactions to events.
Whether reading a biography or watching one, the key to enjoying this genre is to first decide whose life you’d like to know more about. Then seek an interesting biography about them, and you’re almost sure to find one.