From Plutarch to Miḫā’īl Mu‘ayma. An Attempt to define the development of biography in Western and Arabic cultures
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Biography (from Greek bios=life + grapho=record) is an extremely popular type of prose of the last century. Its role is to present the account of person’s life with its two aspects: humanistic and biological. Biography can be seen as a branch of history, since it depends on a selective ordering and interpretation of materials, written and oral, established through research and personal recollections. It can also be seen as a branch of imaginative literature in that it seeks to convey a sense of the individuality and significance of the subject through creative sympathetic insight. The term of biography in the broadest meaning includes also autobiography, in which the subject recounts his or her own life. This is the way we define biography nowadays. Yet, has biography been understood differently before? How, when and where was it created? What were its origins? Why did it come into existence? How did it develop? What functions did it have? What were the similarities and differences in the development of biographical writing in two different cultures: Western culture and Arabic culture?