The Literary Biography

The Literary Biography

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198 pages

No matter how many letters, diaries, unpublished manuscripts, memoirs, photographs, and other sources are available to the biographer, omniscience is impossible and memories are faulty. Problems of construction also pose special challenges. Should the biography be a straight narrative or a psychological treatment? Where should it begin? How should it end? These matters and many others are covered in this important collection of nineteen new essays by eminent biographers.

The essays in The Literary Biography range from an examination of the traditional biographical form, which studies in detail the relation of a writer's art to his or her life, to psychobiography, which is guided more by psychological theory. The contributors explore with insight and candor the many ways they contend with a wide variety of materials, with ethical and legal and stylistic problems, and with what Victoria Glendinning calls the “lies and silences” in the public records.

Elegantly assembled and presented by one of our foremost literary scholars, The Literary Biography is an indispensable guide for biographers, would-be biographers, and readers in general who are eager to learn about the practical and theoretical aspects involved in recounting a life.