The eleven essays that make up this volume point to some of the new directions biography and biographical criticism have taken in recent years. Among the subjects treated are the responsibilities of the authorized biographer, the practice of biography as it intersects ethnography, biographies of historians by historians, the eulogy as a biographical form, the challenge of rendering the uneventful life, and the biographical implications of a single piece of writing. The essays range from general discussions of biographical aims to fresh examinations of particular biographical works. Despite the diversity of their topics, the authors suggest—if only inadvertently—why so many scholars and writers are taking a biographical approach to human experience.
Daniel Aaron was Victor S. Thomas Professor of English and American Literature, Emeritus, Harvard University.