By Barbara Caine
Biography is the oldest means of writing approximately historic occasions, and the most renowned. taking a look at the advanced courting among the self-discipline of background and the writing of lives, Biography and History:
• is the 1st paintings to discover the numerous position of biography inside ancient writing at this time time
• combines a dialogue of the historical past of biography with a longer research of latest ways to biography
• hyperlinks advancements inside of heritage to the broader curiosity in auto/biography and life-writing, and to literary methods
• means that there are a few unique good points within the ways that historians deal with biography.
Original and insightful, this is often a necessary advent to a becoming, and more and more very important, box of analysis and research.
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Extra resources for Biography and History
The low status of biography was reinforced by the emphasis on language and on the importance of understanding cultural encoding which became so influential in the course of the 1960s and 1970s with the emergence of poststructuralism. What was important here was not so much an explicit attack on biography, which was not a subject of much interest, but rather the new ways of thinking about texts and reading which displaced the author, focusing instead on questions about the many hidden meanings in the text and the different kinds of reading that were possible.
Boswell paid relatively little attention to Johnson’s childhood and early life, or indeed to the earlier years of his adult life, focusing most of his attention on the period during which Johnson was a literary celebrity as a result of his conversation as well as his writing. It is worth noting here that, despite the sense of intimacy evident in Boswell’s biography of Johnson, there is much which is omitted. Boswell provides detailed discussion of Johnson’s friendships, manners, physical ailments, problems and some of his emotional weaknesses, as well as his ideas and his work.
But her treatment of the life of Charlotte Brontë’s brother, Branwell, especially her depiction of his sexual entanglement with the wife of his employer, his subsequent dismissal and then his descent into the alcoholism and drug addiction which led to his death exceeded all the boundaries of propriety. Indeed, the frank discussion of this issue in the first edition of the biography led to a threat of litigation. 22 But the storm provoked by Gaskell was nothing compared to the outcry occasioned by Froude’s biography of Thomas Carlyle.