edited by Peter France, William St. Clair
Why biography? This collection of essays on the problems and functions of biography, and particularly the biography of writers, thinkers and artists, investigates a subject of enduring importance for those interested in culture and society. In the last century, it has been a controversial subject, as old models of biographical writing were attacked and superseded, while critics and theorists questioned the once self-evident value of the biography of writers. Yet the genre continues to attract notable authors and is unfailingly popular with readers. The present volume, while containing essays by practising biographers, is intended primarily as a stimulus to critical thinking. It focuses on the diverse functions assumed by life-writing in different European countries at different periods, challenging both the notion of a genre with constant characteristics and aims and the view of modern biography as the happy culmination of centuries of progress.