Lines of Life: Theories of Biography, 1880-1970

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Purdue University Press
Professional & Scholarly


The study of biography has leaped from surveys of biographical writing and statements of biographical, practice to semiotic and poststructaralist discussions of, the modality of biography without adequate consideration of what has already been done to the theory of biography. Professor Novarr has closed that gap with a comprehensive and judicious historical survey and assessment of a I the major (and many of the minor) statements made about biography in the crucial period 188D-1970. The Lines of Life describes the diversity and complexity of theories of biography in the thirty years prior to the publication of Eminent Victorians and makes clear the importance of the ideas of Lesile Stephen, Sidney Lee, Edmund Gosse, and William Roscoe Thayer. It provides for the exciting decade after Eminent Victorians, rigorous assessments of the work of Harold Nicolson, Andre Maurois, Virginia Woolf, and Hesketh Pearson. It shows how theorists and critics in the fifties hedged on the question of biography as art. It traces, in the work of writers like David Cecil, Leon Edel, Mark Schorer, Paul Murray Kendall, and others, the nature of the relation between biographer and subject, the concept that biography is essentially the interpretation of one mind by another, and the idea that the biographer's angle of vision is both inevitable and important