Authors' Lives: On Literary Biography and the Arts of Language

Park Honan, Author St. Martin's Press $17.95 (279p) ISBN 978-0-312-04261-5
American-born Honan ( Jane Austen ), who teaches in England, here collects 21 of his essays on literary biography, plus a hitherto unpublished dialogue on Shakespeare's life. The pieces--perceptive and witty--explore biographical problems, draw comparisons and outline the author's concerns with the minds and lives of writers. In addition to discussing factors he thinks are relevant while a book is being researched and written, he illustrates, in part through delightful personal experiences, the range and flexibility of a biographer's feelings about authors' lives. Honan also compares and contrasts the approaches and styles of Leon Edel (``admirably detailed'' but also ``wearisome''), Richard Ellmann (``a profound and agonizing humility, the first requirement of a biographer'') and Lytton Strachey (``he would alter a fact, if need be, to save the rhythm of a sentence's ending''), as well as those of T. S. Eliot, William Irvine and Lionel Trilling. Highly readable scholarship. (July)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
Genre: Fiction
Discover what to read next