Autobiography and Ethical Literary Criticism

  • Florence Kuek Department of Chinese Studies, University of Malaya Jalan Universiti 50603 Kuala Lumpur
  • Ling Tek Soon Institute of Chinese Studies University of Malaya Jalan Universiti 50603 Kuala Lumpur
Keywords: autobiography, Ethical Literary Criticism, ethical choice, rational will, natural will


Autobiographies are traditionally understood as means of selfredemption or self-validation of the respective autobiographers, but they seem to have become tools of self-assertion in the recent times. The writers of this paper noticed that the underlying patterns in major autobiographies of the respective centuries such as those of Augustine, Rousseau, Virginia Woolf, Han Suyin and other male or female autobiographers commonly evolve around one’s ethical choices in response to the vices caused by one’s natural will and when facing ethical dilemmas caused by life challenges. This paper examines the abovementioned autobiographies via the Ethical Literary Criticism (ELC). Developed by Professor Nie Zhenzhao since 2004, ELC is one of the most insightful critiques in expounding the relationship of the self with oneself, self with others, and self with the divine or higher moral order in the context of the literary world.


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