Memoir Essay: Example and Tips
Memoir is a narrative in the form of notes on behalf of the author about real events of the past, the participant or eyewitness of which he was. Memoir essay is one of the most personal types of essay, as here author tells about himself and discovers his experiences.
History of the genre of memoir
The leading genre of memoirs is the subjective understanding of certain historical events, the life path of a concrete historical figure with the involvement of documents, the correlation of his own spiritual experience with the inner world of his characters, the socio-psychological nature of their actions, and the motivation of actions and decisions. The founder of this genre is Xenophon – the author of memories of Socrates and the military campaign of the Greeks (“Anabasis”, 401 BC). On the Roman day, Julius Caesar (“Notes on the Gallic War”), in the Middle Ages – Pierre Abelard (“The History of My Poverty”), in the Renaissance – Benvenuto Cellini and others, addressed the memoirs. The interest in memoirs did not fade later (Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Madame de Stal, Stendhal, Henry Heine, Ivan Turgenev, Rabindranath Tagore, Ernest Hemingway and others).
Varieties of memoir essays
Memoirs are inherent in documentary, historical authenticity, although the author’s right to artistic fiction is not excluded. For memoirs, the writer’s double view of the events that he describes is characteristic: he perceived them in reality, but these (taking into account life experience, public opinion) events arose in his mind over the years, at the time of creative work on memoirs. Speaking of the past, the author of memoirs can almost never be within the limits of one time measurement.
Memoirs are divided into three categories:
- the object, the purpose and meaning of which lies in the reproduction of the object of author’s attention, that is, events, situations, people;
- subjective, the main interest in which is directed to the figure of the author;
- memories that organically combine both approaches.
The simplest genre form of modern memoirs is letters. Diaries are close to them. They are complemented by other genres of memoir literature. The author of the letter reflects on today’s events, the author of the diary moves to the future, which he can not foresee. Authors of the works of other memoirs genres, on the contrary, return to the past.
The diary is a separate genre form of memoirs. It often is the key to a creative writer’s laboratory. Each recorded opinion, excerpts of phrases, one separate word of the writer helps to more clearly understand the process of his thinking, mood and emotion, which later spit into lines of his works of art.
The more complex form of memoirs is notes. This genre is characterized, first of all, by the possibility of a retrospective look at the past. Notes are perceived as literally processed material, which clearly states the author’s position. The author himself is as if on the periphery of the plot, then approaches its previous boundary, then goes deep, but not often the main character.
The most complicated and widespread genre of memoirs is a literary portrait, the author of which does not aim to recreate the entire life of his hero, but tries to show the characteristic features of his personality through one or several meetings.
Best books in memoir genre
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery – Planet of the people
- Haruki Murakami – What do I say when I talk about running
- Carlos Castaneda – The Art of Dreams
- Carlos Castaneda – Tales of Power
- Carlos Castaneda – Journey to Ixtlan
- Jack London – Road
- Vladimir Nabokov – Other shores
- Salvador Dali – Diary of one genius
- Oscar Wilde – De Profundis. Prison confession
Memoir essay example
Perhaps there is no person who would not think about the questions: “What do I want from life?” “How do I want to see my life?”
And each of us has his own answer, and it’s not surprising at all. After all, everyone has their own preferences, personal inclinations and their own plans for the future – all of this is taken together and forms the everyday life of everyone. How many people, so many stories.
The age of adolescents is a difficult age – parents and teachers are persistently offering to choose professional areas that will become the basis for further professional, and then, apparently, career growth. Mom, grandmother and all female part of humanity teach that the girl should be a good wife, because the comfort in her house depends on her. Student friends are advise to take a break from studying, because we will become more and more students and will probably also work and not always be able to rest.
And interestingly, each of them is absolutely right, and the tips are correct and very relevant. But I personally pondered over that, it is worth so literally to follow all the advice. I honestly tried and understood that listening to everyone at the same time is impossible. I have to sit down and think, after all the advice was very good and very relevant, but diverse. And that’s what I understood: even the best tips are just tips. I have to decide which ones to listen to, and maybe not. And that’s why: THIS IS MY LIFE.
This will be my future study and I have to choose a future profession, even for advice and support, and financially, too, for my parents. But it is my life and I have to live it, not parents and not friends. Each of the advisers has his own affairs and, most importantly, his own life. And why they consider it important. That is why I have to not shift my responsibility to others. It is certainly convenient, but they do not know what I want. And more, how do I know what I want in this life, if I am not able to decide for me.
Therefore, having gained courage, I decided to try to explain what I wanted and how I see my own future. And what was interesting, it turned out to be: I just gave advice, because they thought that I actually had not decided yet. In fact, nobody wanted to pressure me, neither my parents nor friends – they gave advice.
But now there was a question that again made me think: “What should my future be?” While I do not know for sure, I already think about it, I plan it, I try to do the first steps. This is my life and I will live it definitely worthily.