Legacy Now: How Political Memoirs Ensure the Past Fits the Present

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The political memoir has remained a problematic matter in the field of life writing, with its liminal position between reality and fiction resulting in them being difficult to analyse. This thesis attempts to resolve this issue by applying theories by Smith & Watson and Genette to discover how selected books employ the life writing format to present an ideal version of their subject. This thesis asks: how do the compositions of the political autobiographies by Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson, Ken Clarke and Malcolm Rifkind ensure their subjects' past emphasizes their political legitimacy in the present, on both a general and personal level? The books in question were, respectively, A Journey (2010), The Third Man (2010), Kind of Blue (2016) and Power and ragmatism (2016). The paratextual elements these books employ set the tone for what kind of narrative the audience will be reading should they decide to continue reading. The structure of the books is designed in such a way that readers are guided into specific modes of thinking, which allows the narrators to position their subjects in relation to events according to their preferences. The idealised version of the subject was then achieved by the narrators through engaging with personal and national memory, a process based on the narrators' own explicitly stated ideology. On the way, this thesis has considered the importance of genre and genre distinctions for the future of the political memoir in life writing studies, concluding that it is deserving of its category of study, and suggested other future studies as well.
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