When such autobiographies are the living experience of a controversial or a person with great stature, it becomes all the more interesting. Since early days, many sub-genre and myriad forms of writing evolved in the…
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This is true to some extent, but again it cannot be generalized. This thesis statement can be more closely introspected if we give a thorough gaze and reviewing glance to the two great American autobiographies of the contemporary times. The two books taken into consideration are “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” by Malcolm X published in the year 1965 and “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou published in the year 1969.
“The Autobiography of Malcolm X” cannot be granted as an Autobiography in its truest sense as it was written by Alex Haley during the years 1964 and 1965. According to Haley, the book was written on the basis of the interview conducted by Haley with the great historical figure Malcolm X and the interview was conducted shortly before his death. The book was published in the year 1965 with an epilogue just after the death of Malcolm. Here lies the greatest controversy on the fact and fiction. Times Magazine claims “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” as “one of the most important nonfiction books of the 20th century” (Gray, 1998).
But an autobiography should depend on the testimony and not on documentation. Haley himself admitted in his documentary “Eyes on the Prize” about the difficulty of recording the life and experience of Malcolm X as he was averse to talking about personal issues and was more keen on discussing about the “Nation of Islam” (American Experience, n.d.).
Again, in a more controversial document, historian Manning Marable claimed that just before writing the book, Haley had collaborated with FBI to produce misleading criticism on Malcolm and his Nation of Islam. This is again a possibility for the distraction of truth and will always remain open for controversies and criticism (Democracy Now!, 2005).
“The Autobiography of Malcolm X” encapsulates the upbringing of Malcolm in Michigan and his experience of adulthood to the quest of maturity in the city of Boston and New York.
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