essay - art of biography

Topics: Biography, Art, Lytton Strachey Pages: 2 (818 words) Published: April 18, 2014
Biography is concerned with the pattern of action woven by a human character. It is concerned with creating not simply recording. The writing of biography is not a cut-and-dried affair, the assemblage of known facts in a chronological order. Much of the work of the biographer consists in unearthing and collecting the facts. But after the facts have been assembled and classified, the business of interpretation remains. The biographer must put the facts with which he deals into some sort of pattern so that they may have a meaning. Though, he is not at liberty to alter the facts, he is to rely on his imagination for ordering his facts into a pattern. It is his imagination which helps him to make the facts it into a logic growing out of the character of the man whose life he is attempting to reconstruct. The biographer’s basic aim is to arrive at a truth by way of reasoning from the available facts related to the life of his subject. So it is wrong to think that writing a biography simply means collection of facts and information. Carlyle has rightly observed, – “A well written life is almost as rare as a well spent one.” Perhaps, no other man of composition is so difficult; no other deals with such elusive material. Other forms of composition deal with thought and emotion but biography deals with the source of thought and emotion. Biography which was previously thought to be a simple catalogue of facts and events of a person’s life has in course of time developed into an elaborate and interesting art. A great biography does not simply exhibit the external life of an individual but gives a vivid picture of his character and unfold the growth of his mind. A good biographer concerned with presenting the whole of a nature and character. Biographers generally tend to highlight the virtues and positive qualities and to cover up the vices and failings of the individuals they deal with. But this tendency is bound to distort a biographer’s portrayal. Hence, “a good...
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