TRAMES 4, 3, 1999

Valdur Mikita. Life as narrative: a bridge between psychology and semiotics

University of Tartu


This article attempts to find an answer to the question why people sometimes attempt to build up their biography according to the typical canons of an artistic text. This article analyses the nature of such a literary autobiography in the light of the ideas of Eric Berne, Mikhail Rozin, Yuri Lotman and Jerome Bruner. Berne believes that this situation conveys negative psychological reactions, for usually an individual is unable to accomplish the life scenarios worked out by himself in co-operation with his closest friends and relatives. Rozin states that the organisation of one's own life according to the distinguishing principles of a work of art is a manifestation of the creative element in the human being. Lotman analyses human biographies from the point of view of cultural semiotics, pointing out that an autobiography as a work of art is not determined by psychological, but rather by cultural factors. Jerome Bruner discovers connections between models of cultural psychology and the narrative description of human life.

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