The slippery truth of George Buchanan's autobiography

Jon Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Autobiography, a genre seemingly one-dimensional and priviledged concerning personal historical truth - though always viewed to some degree as selective - becomes plural and unstable when placed under close scrutiny and contextualized within the political stress of the historical moment of writing and the writer's personal pragmatic motives generated by the creation of text. On 23 August 1550, George Buchanan, after being held captive and interrogated for over a year by the Portugese Inquisition, placed before the inquisitors his confession and defense. This article analyzes Buchanan's eloquent letter alongside The Life of George Buchanan, written by himself (1580), the other major primary source of historical detail and facts concerning Buchanan's life, as well as the poems written by Buchanan when he was at the court of James V, to explore the pragmatic adoption of particular rhetorical strategies concerning his own personal history by the writer during different periods of his lifetime.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-87
JournalSixteenth Century Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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