Difference Between Narrative And Biography

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History and Biography Narrative is a fundamental aspect of an effective historical composition. A successful narrative can provide important sensory details that a straightforward analysis may omit. David Hackett Fischer suggests, “To reconstruct a series of happenings, the best and only instrument is narrative.” Even so, many historians still struggle with the status of narrative in scholarly works. Similar sentiments follow the genre of biography in history. Biography is equally controversial, as many historians have dissenting opinions regarding its treatment and official definition. The standard definition of narrative is an account that contains a beginning, middle and end. Likewise, it is important that it is…show more content…
Scholars believe that the emphasis placed on the individual directs attention away from more important questions of broader causes and developments. Such conversations point to the agency of the individual. Biography in a historical context in general relies less on the emphasis on personality Furthermore, the historical theory of “objectivity” may be endangered when examining personality. Other disciplines employ personality as a stylistic mechanism. Historical writing may utilize some stylistic techniques, but should emphasize credible sources and interpretation. To many historians today, and certain to the European empiricists of the 19th century, objectivity should be as present as possible to fashion an effective piece. In general, biography is more often than not seen as an inferior form of historical analysis. Historians like Barbara Caine argue biography should focus on the life of the individual but only individuals of significance. Furthermore, Scottish philosopher of the 19th century, Thomas Carlyle commended biography for presenting historical figures as ‘real beings, which were once alive, beings of his own flesh and blood, not mere shadows and dim abstractions.” Though successfully implementing this method can add a dimension of human connection, special measures must be taken to ensure that this does not take away from fundamental structures of historical…show more content…
However, it is important as a historian, to keep these mechanisms in check and maintain the tenants of historical writing. As evidenced in this analysis, centuries of historians have grappled with these genres. Some argue that analysis is superior to narrative while others believe that narrative is the most important aspect of a successful composition. Similar dissent has taken place regarding biography in historical writing. Whether the focus lie in the individual or a broader theme in history or a specific event, historians should form their own opinions, but maintain the necessary framework of historical
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