History plays a very important role in my home. In fact, one whole wall of our living room provides a cozy home for hundreds of books on the subject. The biography section of our bulging bookcase overflows with amazing tales of people who really lived, from authors to reformers to missionaries. Yet, accurate as these volumes seem, I often wonder how much literary license authors — biographical authors, in particular — permit themselves. Did C. S. Lewis really allow that to influence his writing? What were Jim Elliot’s true final thoughts?
This is where autobiographies come in. No medium on earth expresses the inmost workings of a heart as succinctly as the written word. In this case, memoirs can convey thoughts and emotions impossible for regular biographies. Rather than simply telling the story, they allow the reader to experience that story; to peek into another’s heart, feel it beat, listen to its voice; to literally view life through the eyes of someone else. Biographies offer facts. Autobiographies provide snapshots of a person’s soul.