“Is the language Foxe used still compelling today?”
Foxe’s Acts and Monuments is an extremely lengthy (500 chapters) work on the history of Christian martyrs. It was written shortly after the death of Queen Mary I of England and was totally critical of the late Catholic queen of England.
According to me, this book is too lengthy and boring for the average person. It is too much book to be spent on the history of martyrs and the constant descriptions and debates can get tiring.
That being said, however, the book’s overall style is not too bad. It is not written in a language that was only for scholars. Instead, it was written for the common person. At this time, the printing press being available, therefore books were now available for the average person, whereas before they were not. However, I can’t believe that so many people were able to get through such a gigantic book, day after day, on the same subject.
Because Foxe did write to the common person, in English, not Latin, I do think that the language is still readable today. What might be repulsive is the fact that you have 500 chapters on the history of Christian martyrs, which is great if you’re specializing in that section of history, but otherwise quite daunting.
“Should I include reconstructed speeches in my autobiography?”
It really depends on the context wherein I might include one. I definitely would not include a speech made by the mayor of my town because it would bore my audience greatly. However, perhaps I would include a speech that influenced my life in such a great way that it couldn’t be ignored. In this case I probably would include short quotations from the most important parts of the speech, in order to keep my reader’s attention.
I definitely would not include speeches where they would be irrelevant, boring or out of context.
One of the memorable images from the autobiography of Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery, was education. Education for the blacks (ex-slaves) is really the main point of the entire book. The freed black slaves had a great desire to have an education. Often, even if they could not yet perform a proper trade they would have learned some Latin and Greek.
Another memorable image was the fact that the freed blacks would, according to Booker, choose new names once they got freed. Because most slaves would be called by their first names their last names would often be forgotten. Therefore, most ex-slaves would take the name of their former owner. They would also pick a middle initial, which would be related to any name they not had whatsoever. (For example: James K. Little.) These names they called their “entitles.”
These two things were what stood out to me the most.
A young Russian Communist, having escaped into Canada, noted the difference between the two cultures.
“They took me… and drove me around Prince Rupert…. My eyes almost popped out as I looked at the cars and nice homes….They said, “This is where the people live.” “Who, capitalists and businessmen?” I asked. He laughed and said, “No, just the plain, working people….” Later they brought me a photographic magazine to look at… full of pictures of mirrors, chairs, beds, carpets, and… expensive furniture…. Russian propaganda says that the very rich have become rich by exploiting the very poor. But the homes of the workers here were the equivalent of palaces in Russia, and I couldn’t fail to notice that everyone was dressed almost the same, with good clothes….”
Contrasts definitely make this autobiography stronger because they help us to relate to the author’s feelings. The contrasts also help us to view the world through the author’s eyes, and therefore see different aspects of it that we would otherwise not notice. Without contrasts, this autobiography would be boring, dull and unattractive.
 Excerpt from The Persecutor, autobiography of Sergei Kourdakov (See here).
One turning point in my life was when we got our dog. I had been horribly scared of dogs ever since I was one years old. A dog had barked in my face and because I was so little, I had freaked out. For years after, just seeing a dog three hundred feet away would scare me and I would start screaming. It was horrible and embarrassing, especially when we were in stores. So finally when I was seven years old we got a dog: a six month old puppy.
She was an adorable brindle Bouvier de Flanders. We named her Maya. After a few weeks I began to pet her and let her come to me. However, what melted my heart was when she licked me for the first time. I was sitting on the floor tying my shoes when she came up to me and licked my face. Although I was startled and scared at first, afterwards I realized I liked it.
Without Maya I would never have gotten over my horrendous fear of dogs. I am very grateful to her for that. She is now almost eight years old and a wonderful pet. Dogs are wonderful creatures and I don’t think anybody should be scared of them. Maya helped me and I hope everyone who is scared of dogs is able to get over their fear like I did.