The point is that most Western intellectual autobiographies, apart from the writings of revolutionaries in whom the life was subordinate to the action in the world, have been luxury items.
—Richard Gilman, in The Confusion of Realms (1969)

Reading the memoirs of one’s own contemporaries is always, I suppose, a vexing experience. We are naturally curious to know what the period in question—“our” period —looked like from someone else’s perspective, and we are naturally curious, too, though we might not always be eager to admit it, to get the lowdown on lives other than our own. Yet it is my impression that these expectations, except on the rare occasions when such memoirs are works of literary genius, are likely to be disappointed. About the period under review in such memoirs we have our own ideas and our own memories, and in anyone else’s account of it we are, more often...

 
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