Somewhere between documentary and created personal myth, today’s memoir is a seductive medium. After all, whom is more interesting to write about than one’s self? Memoir writing is recalling events stored in human memory. It’s currently a popular form for writers of essays and creative non-fiction. Some memoirs even strive to report life rooted in fact.
Resting at a way-sign, Pyrenees Pilgrimage, September 2001. Old-style ‘selfie’ photo.
I looked up memoir in my Hachette Oxford French dictionary and was surprised to see that the literary context is the third meaning of the word, after a full column of English meanings related to administrative memos, dissertations, legal statements, and computer storage. Why did I look up memoir in a French dictionary? Because those pesky French are dedicated to meticulous language management and the book was easier to lift than Vol. 1 of the Shorter OED.
It turns out that the OED…
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