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Ferociouskitty
Veteran Poster
Username: Ferociouskitty

Post Number: 643
Registered: 02-2008

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Posted on Wednesday, March 04, 2009 - 12:35 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

A while ago, Thumper posted a thread here about "definitive" biographies. I'm reading a biography of Anais Nin by Deidre Bair (who also wrote biographies of Samuel Becket, Carl Jung, and Simone de Beauvoir). Bair wrote something in the introduction to the Nin biography that I found interesting, in light of Thumper's thread/question:

Throughout this book, I tried to avoid labeling either Anais Nin or those persons who figured throughout her life, mostly because everyone I spoke to tried to do it for me. I tried to avoid all these labels, from the person who [called Nin's diary] "the liary", to the scholar who disrupted a lecture to insist that I apply a litany of clinical and pathological terms to Anais Nin's personality. I avoided attaching labels, terms, or clinical descriptions to her because my primary aim in this biography is to allow readers to form their own opinions about this woman I found so compellingly complex; also (and more important to me personally), because I believe in the biographical imperative that any given life must serve to present evidence for further scholarly inquiry. (emphasis mine)
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Cynique
"Cyniquian" Level Poster
Username: Cynique

Post Number: 13557
Registered: 01-2004

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Posted on Wednesday, March 04, 2009 - 01:35 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

It's ironic that a biography "takes on a life of its own". If a person's life is detailed, instead of interpreted, it will speak for itself. No?
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Chrishayden
"Cyniquian" Level Poster
Username: Chrishayden

Post Number: 7792
Registered: 03-2004

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Posted on Wednesday, March 04, 2009 - 01:48 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I tried to avoid all these labels,

(Of course this is nonsense.

Few biographies are written in a void. The biographer likes the person or wants to tear him down. Some think that, by merely presenting the facts, they have been non critical.

No way. No biography can present all the facts. Such a biography would be a bloated monstrosity thousands of pages long, like a Leon Forrest novel.

Some facts must be left out. Those would form a complete picture of the subject.

There is much that we cannot know.

What were one's thoughts really, on the morning of 9/11. Did no one not wonder what one would have for lunch? If so, what does that say about us.

Adolph Hitler was apparently adored by Josef Goebbel's children. So who can exhaustively detail that and get around to WWII?
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Cynique
"Cyniquian" Level Poster
Username: Cynique

Post Number: 13560
Registered: 01-2004

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Posted on Wednesday, March 04, 2009 - 07:55 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

What are you talking about, chrishayden??

A pattern can emerge from a detailed account of a person's life and there is such a thing as reading between the lines. What can be deduced from Goebbel's children liking Hitler is that altho Hitler was an anathema to Jewish children, because he loved his own people, he was nice to German children.

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