Which Persona is in Charge? The Multiple Perspectives of Wayne Booth’s Autobiography

My essay explores what contribution autobiography might make to the illumination of Mormon history and culture. i chose wayne c. Booth’s My Many Selves—The Quest for a Plausible Harmony because it demonstrates the influence a Mormon boyhood exerted upon the career of one of the twentieth century’s most influential literary theorists, and because in it the author invented a new kind of autobiography. Booth judges his life so unexceptional that he doesn’t treat it chronologically, choosing instead to organize chapters around his internal conflicts, ambivalences, and self-contradictions. The result: a chaotic but absorbing account of an intelligent, humane, and fascinating personality.

Levi Peterson