Girish Karnad's Memoirs are dedicated to a doctor who never showed up, the acclaimed playwright, actor and director admitted to a packed hall that burst into laughter. “I was eating dinner with my parents when my mother said to my father — to think we almost didn't have him. Fortunately, when they did go to the doctor, she did me the favour of not turning up. After that, they changed their mind.”

On the second day of The Jaipur Literature Festival, 2012, Girish Karnad and Sudhir Kakar, psychoanalyst and writer, discussed their autobiographies at the session supported by The Hindu titled ‘Speak Memory: The Craft of Memoir.' Introduced by author, translator and director Arshia Sattar, Karnad and Kakar spoke about the art of writing autobiographies and the impulses and inclinations that guided them. “I think the first time I thought of writing my autobiography was when my wife pointed out to me that I'd started name-dropping. I thought there was something to that,” said Karnad.

Kakar admitted that writing his autobiography A Book of Memory was an exercise in self-exploration and self-deception. “I think that writing an autobiography is about self-examination, about courage to handle the truth about yourself and fight that constant battle between the wish to conceal and the wish to reveal.”

Perhaps the most important commandment of writing an autobiography is that the narrative should not deal with feelings of self-worth, he said. “It is a constant struggle against narcissism, something which can easily give you a distorted perception of the self.”


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