A Philosophy of Autobiography by Aakash Singh Rathore, a distinguished professor of philosophy, is an interesting take on the genre of autobiography. The title of the book might belie the radical way in which autobiographical narrative technique is interpreted. A central premise of the book is that all autobiography—rightly executed and interpreted—is an exercise in not only telling the story of a personal life but also privileging the lived experiences of the author.
The life lived ultimately must be mediated through the many somatic experiences that the writer has had, Rathore argues. The book is also a lesson in how we must break away from the habit of thinking of lives lived as merely expressed in their artistic or scholarly productions. It is very tempting to think of the ‘body of work’ of an author or a writer as their many linguistic and artistic expressions. This temptation is most acute when we come across scholars and writers whose prodigious contribution to philosophy, literature, history or any field of scholarship, baffles our interpretive capacity and we wonder at their genius. Then, we are prone to say that they lived a ‘life of the mind’, thinking that beneath their calm quotidian lives there must have been a whole field of ideas and concepts jostling with immense energy, crucial to the genius of their expressive capacity.