Tuesday, May 26, 2015

"My writing makes better reading." Pearl Witherington weighs in on fictionalized biographies

From the original French-language memoir, Pauline, a transcript of multiple interviews conducted by French journalist, Hervé Larroque, in 1994-95. This little gem is not included in Code Name Pauline so I thought I'd post it here:

"I would never have taken the initiative of talking about what I did.  I’m telling you about it now because you asked me to.  There aren’t many people with whom we’ve discussed it.  Every time someone has asked me to talk about the war or to write about our life -- goodness knows there have been a lot of them -- I’ve always refused.  Because I don’t want it to be embellished.  The accounts of all these events, as they happened, are just part of our life at the time and don’t need to be romanticized.

There are two books in English which mention me and I’m really disappointed by them.

You don’t recognize yourself in them?

Not at all and I told the author.  She had explained to me what she was intending to write, because she wanted me to do the job.  I replied, “Write what you want about me and I’ll correct it.”  I corrected it, then she said, “I haven’t included your corrections because my writing makes better reading.”  Well I’m afraid I can’t see myself in her book at all.  For a start the things she wrote didn’t correspond to what I did.  My job was to organize things..."

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