S: Victor Hugo: A Biography by Graham Robb - don't make the same mistake I did, and assume that just because you've read Les Miserables or The Hunchback of Notre Dame that you've got a grasp on his work or life
S: Footsteps: Adventures of a Romantic Biographer by Richard Holmes - kind of a travelogue, kind of a collection of short bios, kind of hard to describe
― I'm Passing Open Windows (Ms Laura), Friday, 14 May 2004 19:50 (sixteen years ago) link
― Casuistry (Chris P), Friday, 14 May 2004 20:54 (sixteen years ago) link
― Franz Kafka (Franz), Saturday, 15 May 2004 04:38 (sixteen years ago) link
― Mike Guy (Miss Lonelyhearts), Sunday, 16 May 2004 21:10 (sixteen years ago) link
― J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Sunday, 16 May 2004 23:12 (sixteen years ago) link
But I've heard Ellman's author bios are generally excellent.
― Ann Sterzinger (Ann Sterzinger), Monday, 17 May 2004 03:19 (sixteen years ago) link
Ellman's Joyce is a somewhat canonical biography; I seem to remember that I skimmed a lot of it (when I read it a decade ago).
― Casuistry (Chris P), Monday, 17 May 2004 05:06 (sixteen years ago) link
― J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Monday, 17 May 2004 07:04 (sixteen years ago) link
― Mikey G (Mikey G), Monday, 17 May 2004 08:20 (sixteen years ago) link
― bookdwarf (bookdwarf), Monday, 17 May 2004 15:28 (sixteen years ago) link
― Rabin the Cat (Rabin the Cat), Monday, 17 May 2004 16:32 (sixteen years ago) link
― Fred (Fred), Monday, 17 May 2004 17:00 (sixteen years ago) link
S: "Ralph Ellison: Emergence of Genius" by Lawrence Jackson. I don't read too many writer bios, but this one i liked - a fine balance of history + criticism.
― a spectator bird (a spectator bird), Tuesday, 18 May 2004 13:44 (sixteen years ago) link
― Gregory Henry (Gregory Henry), Tuesday, 18 May 2004 23:50 (sixteen years ago) link
― Gregory Henry (Gregory Henry), Tuesday, 18 May 2004 23:51 (sixteen years ago) link
"Orwell" by Bernard Crick. I know that D. J. Taylor's biography is the flavor of the moment as Orwell biographies go, but I still think that Crick's is the best, particularly for explaining Orwell's politics.
"Graham Greene" by Norman Sherry. The first volume is so enormous it almost chokes the reader with its bulk, but the second volume is much more manageable (not to mention more interesting as it gets into the more important and controversial portions of Greene's career). It will be interesting to see how Sherry finishes it up in the final volume.
― Mark, Sunday, 13 June 2004 15:52 (sixteen years ago) link
― Øystein H-O (Øystein H-O), Monday, 14 June 2004 08:39 (sixteen years ago) link
― Ken L (Ken L), Tuesday, 4 January 2005 06:10 (sixteen years ago) link
― Gail S, Tuesday, 4 January 2005 19:13 (sixteen years ago) link
― Charles Dexter (Holey), Saturday, 16 July 2005 12:55 (fifteen years ago) link
Nearly 15K on how Biographies aren't good rly
Layers of hate-reading to be had.
― xyzzzz__, Saturday, 11 November 2017 14:02 (three years ago) link
― Part Time Punkahwallah (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 11 November 2017 15:27 (three years ago) link
been a long time, but I enjoyed that Crick bio of Orwell mentioned upthread: def a study, with speculation and evidence clearly presented---also mentions stuff I didn't know, such as Down and Out... being fiction, although I don't remember how much of it might have been based on personal experience, but to some extent influenced by Jack London's People of the Abyss(which is non-fiction, or at least there was an edition with his pix, via concealed camera, I think---sold a copy of it in a used book store, to a woman whose son was always competing w friends re rare book finds). Also London's The Iron Heel was a forerunner of 1984, though the Orwell treatment was distinctly his.Some of his old schoolmates got a bit impatient later, something like, "You couldn't ask him for a light without getting a lecture on production of matches and the plight of workers in match factories." One old boy deplored the description of their alma mater in "Such, Such Were The Joys", but then took it further (interviewed by Crick, I think), volunteering that it was not terribly uncommon to see a lad vomiting into his breakfast bowl.
― dow, Saturday, 11 November 2017 18:16 (three years ago) link
xp enjoyed that Alice Spawls piece - seems like a very difficult excercise, writing a Brontë bio disguised as something about Brontë bios and bios in general _without_ ending up like all the other Brontë bios responding to other Brontë bios. Some beautiful passages too! Good work!
― abcfsk, Wednesday, 15 November 2017 13:22 (three years ago) link
im reading and loving vol 1 Oneill: Son and Playwright by louis sheaffer
― johnny crunch, Monday, 10 August 2020 20:48 (five months ago) link
on to the ruth franklin shirley jackson bio, v good also
the oneill bio i mentioned last post (vol 1&2) is prob amongst the top 10 books across any genre that ive ever read fwiw
― johnny crunch, Thursday, 24 December 2020 03:27 (four weeks ago) link
two of my favorites are Nabokov's Speak, Memory and Primo Levi's The Periodic Table. i like memoirs that don't try to connect the dots.
― wasdnuos (abanana), Saturday, 26 December 2020 15:56 (three weeks ago) link