"novel" again

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Fri Sep 7 15:37:52 UTC 2007

At 9/7/2007 11:20 AM, Jon L wrote:
>True, Joel, but the point is that Kovic's book *isn't a novel.*

Ah -- Did I misunderstand, your objection wasn't to calling a novel
"autobiographical", but to calling Kovic's book a "novel" when it
should better be called a "memoir"?  (Based I assume on knowledge of
its contents, which I don't have since I haven't read it.)


>   By sheer and almost unbelievable coincidence, a few minutes after
> posting that atrocity I discovered an example of "memoir" used to
> mean "a book-length fiction set in a past time about which the
> author has some personal knowledge."  Skeptical? Try this:
>2003 Karen Krizanovich, in Steven Jay Schneider, ed. _1001 Movies
>You Must See Before You Die_ (N.Y.: Barron's) 675: Lothar-Gunther
>Buchheim [is] the war correspondent upon whose bestselling 1973
>memoirs the script for _Das Boot_ was based.
>   Krizanovich reviews films for various British publications,
> including _Cosmopolitan UK_.
>   BTW, why you must see all these movies before you die is never
> fully explained.
>   JL
>"Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET> wrote:
>   ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
>Sender: American Dialect Society
>Poster: "Joel S. Berson"
>Subject: Re: "novel" again
>At 9/6/2007 08:40 PM, Jon L. wrote:
> >How can I resist?
> >
> > 2003 Mark Taylor _The Vietnam War in History, Literature and
> > Film_ (Tuscaloosa: U. of Alabama Press) 140: Ron Kovic's
> > autobiographical novel _Born on the Fourth of July_ [was]
> published in 1976.
> >
> > Kovic's very well-known book is what used to be called a
> > "memoir." Taylor - Lecturer in American Studies at the University
> > of Hull - doesn't claim that any of it is invented.
>Although I too cringe at calling an autobiography a novel, I take
>"autobiographical" as a looser "based on a life". And the OED has,
>at least for "autobiographic", "1. Of the nature of autobiography",
>with one quote being:
>1870 Lowell Among my Bks. Ser. ii. (1873) 26 The writings of
>Dante..are all..autobiographic.
>Surely Dante was not Orpheus -- and the OED's second ellipsis omits
>an interesting qualification:
>"The first remark to be made upon the writings of Dante is that they
>are all (with the possible exception of the treatise De Vulgari
>Eloquio) autobiographic"
>This is from Google Books -- and for something entirely different,
>eagerly await a forthcoming publication ...
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