An autobiography differs from a memoir in a sense that an autobiography covers all the events of the narrator’s life in chronological order, whereas a memoir is a real-life experience of the author, that has a lesson or message to share with the readers. Due to many similarities between these two, many people get a bit confused and don’t understand, which form of literature is an autobiography and which one is a memoir.
While an autobiography covers the entire life of the writer, the memoir is about a part of life of the writer. Read the article provided below, in which substantial differences between autobiography and memoir are explained in detail.
Content: Autobiography Vs Memoir
|Basis for Comparison||Autobiography||Memoir|
|Meaning||Autobiography refers to that form of literature in which a person writes or narrates his own life story.||A literary genre, containing memories, written by the individual on the incidents and events occurred to him in his life, is called memoir.|
|What is it?||An account of life.||An account from life.|
|Covers||Entire life of the author.||Particular section of life of the author.|
|Protagonist||First or third person||First person|
|Focuses on||All events of the life of the leading character.||Exploring significant event or incident in depth, in the memorist's life.|
|Order||Follows a chronological order.||Can begin anywhere.|
Definition of Autobiography
Autobiography is a detailed account of an individual’s life, written or told by that individual himself. It is an abbreviated summary written in chronological order, that tells one’s experience in life, like the highs and lows, in different phases like childhood, adulthood and so on. Usually, they are written in the first person, ‘I’ and in this way the writer can easily express his views on the life events.
An autobiography can be written by the subject or the subject may hire a ghost writer, to write for them. It can be in the form of books, audio recording, drama, skit, documentaries or movies.
Definition of Memoir
The word ‘memoir’ is a French term which refers to reminiscence or remembrance. It is a memory written by the subject himself, in real time that presents a moral or message to the readers. It aims to explain how the subject learned a lesson from his experience or how he changed himself. The author of the memoir is called memorist. It covers a specific section, stage or time of the author’s life, that cause him to change like a turning point or a failure, etc.
Key Differences Between Autobiography and Memoir
The significant differences between autobiography and memoir are described in the points given below:
- A form of literature, in which the subject writes or narrates his own life story, is known as Autobiography. The memoir is a literary genre, which is a collection of memories, written by the individual on the incidents and events occurred to him in his life.
- An autobiography contains intricate details about the life events of the subject. On the other hand, a memoir is more centralised in nature which focuses on the specific events that happened to the author.
- An autobiography covers the entire life of the subject, but a memoir spans a particular section or time or stage, of the memoirist’s life.
- An autobiography is written in first or third person, whereas a memoir is written in the first person.
- An autobiography focuses on all events of the life of the protagonist. In contrast, memoir, focuses on exploring any particular event or incident in depth, which is important to the memorist.
- An autobiography follows a chronological order while a memoir is structure-less i.e. it does not follow any order like a novel, it can start at any point.
- Nonfictional literary genre.
- Written by the subject himself.
- Written in the first person.
A memoir is recognised as a subgenre of the biography and autobiography. The basic difference between these two literary forms is that an autobiography is a story of a life that contains all the details of the life of the main character like birthplace, education, work, relationship, etc. of the subject. On the other hand, memoir focuses on a specific aspect of the lead character’s life.