Sunday, May 13, 2012


"There are two principal models for biography in our culture, and perhaps the first decision the biographer has to face is which of the two will best suit the subject in question. First, there is the Boswellian model: the massive tome (or tomes) containing as much material as can be garnered, following the philosophy that the more we know about the great man — or woman — the more fully we are able to view him or her in the round. The second model was developed by Lytton Strachey in reaction to what he called the Victorian ‘Standard Biographies’ in ‘two fat volumes,’ full of irrelevant detail; Stracheyan biography is slim and sleek, communicated through carefully chosen points and characteristic anecdotes."

from Brooke Allen’s review of Rosamund Bartlett’s new biography on Tolstoy.

Fiona MacCarthy anybody!

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