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By Linda Anderson

It is a fantastic method to get what's going with autobiography as a style and an procedure.

Especially powerful in bringing the reader during the ancients and into the postmoderns.

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One important reason for this was the breakdown of state censorship during the civil war and a newly democratized access to print culture (Delany 1969: 81). For members of the 27 28 historians of the self dissenting sects which proliferated during this period, and who produced by far the largest number of such autobiographies, personal testimony was an important form of religious propaganda. ‘Mechanick preachers’ like John Bunyan who lacked institutional sanction or formal education for their ministry, instead founded their authority on a personal account of their special calling and journey towards grace (Bunyan 1962: xxix).

His precocious ‘manliness’ is evident, according to Boswell, when, as an infant, he feels ‘insulted’ by his schoolmistress’ protectiveness and beats her ‘as well as his strength would permit’ (Boswell 1970: 30). 327). That masculinity required this aggressive beating off of the feminine is evident in Boswell’s policing of his own version of Johnson against other memoirists. In particular it is Mrs Thrale (later Piozzi) who figures in the Life, sometimes anonymously as ‘a lady’, who threatens the ‘reasonableness’ of Boswell’s account, and whose accuracy Boswell calls into question.

Bunyan himself, in the Preface, points to the unmediated nature of his writing which he compares with the unadorned and authoritative nature of divine intervention. ‘God did not play in convincing of me; the Devil did not play in tempting of me . . wherefore I may not play in my relating of them, but be plain and simple, and lay down the thing as it was’ (Bunyan 1962: 3–4). More ingenuously, he later remarks how ‘I never endeavoured to, nor durst make use of other men’s lines . . 87–8). The extent to which Bunyan’s text is conventional, drawing both on patterns and formulations of experience which he shared with other writers of the period, as well as echoing, in particular, Martin Luther’s writing, has been widely commented on (Haskin 1981: 302–3; Tindall 1934: 30).

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