Can biography and autobiography tell us the truth about an individual? These currently
popular literary genres are widely supposed to illuminate the study of the individual
and her or his personal circumstances. Missing Persons suggests that biography and
autobiography are, in fact, based on fictions, both about the person and about what
is possible to know about any one individual.
This study is organised into chapters
which consider particular kinds of auto/biographical writing, such as work on the
British royal family, George Orwell, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre. She
explores how individuals have acted to construct themselves, using case studies to
highlight the different choices made and the social influences involved, and demonstrates
the absences and evasions--indeed, the missing persons--of biography and autobiography.