A good reason for writing one’s autobiography is that it may prevent some jerk from writing one’s biography. And this is all to the good, if only because what one writes oneself about persons and facts one knew firsthand will contain only such voluntary departures from the truth as one considers necessary to prevent a few husbands from shooting their wives, for instance (or vice versa), as opposed to the mountains of false statements, misspelled names, wrong dates, and incorrect loci the well-meaning biographer usually comes up with after tracking one down through the morgues of defunct newspapers, the old letters of some of one’s friends, and the very unreliable memories of people who knew one slightly. This is the tremendous advantage of even the most analphabetic autobiography over even the most scholarly biography. Baron Münchhausen himself will be closer to the truth, describing what he himself has done, than the most conscientious outsider trying to relate the same thing a couple of centuries later. It is often stupefying to read a piece about somebody one knew intimately, in a time which appears still quite recent, and to discover its extraordinary inaccuracy. It makes one doubt all the history studied in school, rarely written down by those who made it.
- Preston Sturges, Preston Sturges