The Introduction lays out the reasons for undertaking the study, as well as the broader contexts within which it is important. It examines how great spirits – referred collectively to those authors treated in the book – have figured the flesh, have depicted the relationship between flesh and spirit. Is that not what autobiographical writing in essence is, the transubstantiation of flesh into words that convey the spirit? In Christian theology, the Word was made flesh. In secular autobiography, the flesh is made Word. Autobiographies can be read to reveal the physical, the real material conditions that gave birth to their authors’ spirit, their spirit – concretized in their unparalleled achievements – being the reason for which we all know, admire, and study these great people in the first place.