Krakauer insists that he wont claim to be an impartial biographer.What kind of book do you think an impartial biographer might write? how do you think such a biography would be diffrent thatn the...

Krakauer insists that he wont claim to be an impartial biographer.

What kind of book do you think an impartial biographer might write? how do you think such a biography would be diffrent thatn the book Krakauer has written? Would it be better, worse, or just too different to properly judge? what conditions would a biography have to meet in order for its author to be able to claim partiality? Do you think this is a realistic or reasonable expectation?

Asked on by cmuff

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

Krakauer's partiality is apparent in the way he dramatizes his account of "Alex's" journey. This dramatization is evident from the first page:

A rifle protruded from the young man's backpack, but he looked friendly enough; ... As they rolled down from the forested ridges above the Tanana River, Alex gazed across the expanse of windswept muskeg stretching to the south.

Partial, dramatizing and editorializing comments such as "looked friendly enough" and "Alex gazed across the expanse" flavor the reader's image and understanding of "Alex" as they are meant to do and as they do in any good work of fiction: such phrases tell readers indirectly who the characters are and give the narrator's (or author's) tone toward them.

An impartial account would be presented more as a documentary without the dramatic affect, more like a nature documentary. An impartial account may have been more like this:

The young man had a rifle showing from his backpack. Nothing about the person's appearance suggested danger in regard to the presence of the rifle. ... They descended from the ridges and high forests. Alex looked out at the terrain that was windy and vast and covered with muskeg peatland soil.

The effect of impartiality renders each action and event a separate occurrence that the reader may judge in any way that strikes them: either positively or negatively; as revealing something about the character and situation or as devoid of deeper meaning.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I agree with #3. The myth of impartiality has been debunked many times, as no matter how objective we try to be, our own views and upbringing will influence our thoughts and feelings on any given topic. However, if this excellent book were to be more impartial, I think we would proabably have a much more objective view of Chris McCandless and his exploits. It appears that the author himself was caught up in the romance of Chris's attempt to enter the wild, which no doubt relates to his own experiences of raw nature.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

It's impossible tom be completely impartial.  We're humans, after all, and even if we have good intentions to be as objective as possible, we interpret things in the way WE see them, not necessarily how they are.  This is inherent bias and it shows up in every journalistic and non-fiction work.  The trick is recognizing it when you read it, and to do this, you should view it with a critical eye, and not just accept it as fact because it is in print or online.

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Impartial implies lack of judgement. Every biography has some choices the biographer has made. I don't think it's possible to be completely impartial. You decide what to leave in, and what to leave out, as a biographer. It involves some strategizing to attempt to be impartial and not judge.

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