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Autobiography And Contemporary History: The Dutch Reception Of Autobiographies, 1850–1918

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Chapter Summary

An inventory of Dutch egodocuments shows that, although the number of diaries and autobiographies increased throughout the nineteenth century, there are hardly signs of a tendency towards introspection. This chapter shows that during the second half of the nineteenth century autobiography filled readers' needs for histories of their own time, with a focus on the changing life circumstances of people and their topical experiences. Author interprets this interest in realistic information on topical issues against the background of developments in the press, the status of the novel and the professionalization of historiography. These developments also influenced the transformation of the autobiographical genre into an aesthetically-judged personal testimony at the end of the century. The number of autobiographies and other egodocuments was increasing and the reception data show that autobiographies were seen as sources of information on a wide scale of subjects of contemporary history.

Keywords: autobiographies; contemporary history; Dutch; egodocuments; historiography; personal testimony



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