- By Hermione Lee

Virginia Woolf's Nose: Essays on Biography

  • Title: Virginia Woolf's Nose: Essays on Biography
  • Author: Hermione Lee
  • ISBN: 9780691130446
  • Page: 157
  • Format: Paperback
  • Virginia Woolf s Nose Essays on Biography What choices must a biographer make when stitching the pieces of a life into one coherent whole How do we best create an accurate likeness of a private life from the few articles that linger after dea

    What choices must a biographer make when stitching the pieces of a life into one coherent whole How do we best create an accurate likeness of a private life from the few articles that linger after death How do we choose what gets left out This intriguing and witty collection of essays by an internationally acclaimed biographer looks at how biography deals with myths andWhat choices must a biographer make when stitching the pieces of a life into one coherent whole How do we best create an accurate likeness of a private life from the few articles that linger after death How do we choose what gets left out This intriguing and witty collection of essays by an internationally acclaimed biographer looks at how biography deals with myths and legends, what goes missing and what can t be proved in the story of a life Virginia Woolf s Nose presents a variety of case studies, in which literary biographers are faced with gaps and absences, unprovable stories and ambiguities surrounding their subjects By looking at stories about Percy Bysshe Shelley s shriveled, burnt heart found pressed between the pages of a book, Jane Austen s fainting spell, Samuel Pepys s lobsters, and the varied versions of Virginia Woolf s life and death, preeminent biographer Hermione Lee considers how biographers deal with and often utilize these missing body parts, myths, and contested data to fill in the gaps of a life story In Shelley s Heart and Pepys s Lobsters, an essay dealing with missing parts and biographical legends, Hermione Lee discusses one of the most complicated and emotionally charged examples of the contested use of biographical sources Jane Austen Faints takes five competing versions of the same dramatic moment in the writer s life to ask how biography deals with the private lives of famous women Virginia Woolf s Nose looks at the way this legendary author s life has been translated through successive transformations, from biography to fiction to film, and suggests there can be no such thing as a definitive version of a life Finally, How to End It All analyzes the changing treatment of deathbed scenes in biography to show how biographical conventions have shifted, and asks why the narrators and readers of life stories feel the need to give special meaning and emphasis to endings Virginia Woolf s Nose sheds new light on the way biographers bring their subjects to life as physical beings, and offers captivating new insights into the drama of life writing Virginia Woolf s Nose is a witty, eloquent, and funny text by a renowned biographer whose sensitivity to the art of telling a story about a human life is unparalleled and in creating it, Lee articulates and redefines the parameters of her craft.

    1 thought on “Virginia Woolf's Nose: Essays on Biography

    1. Companion of the British Empire for Services to Literature and author of highly respected biographies of Edith Wharton and Virginia Woolf, Lee examines the art and artifice of fixing a person's life, turning it into a narrative and inevitably emphasising some points, omitting others so that only a 'likeness' can possibly emerge. The idea that a biography can be neutral, factual and true is an illusion. The question is only how much of a distortion the various 'versionings' are.She writes of the [...]

    2. Hermione Lee is a critic and biographer who's published books on Philip Roth and Elizabeth Bowen as well as biographies of Willa Cather and Virginia Woolf, the latter perhaps the definitive work on the subject's life. Here she turns her attention to the craft of biography. In considering the huge amount of information available from a variety of sources, she's concerned with how a biographer chooses what to include, what to leave out. Whose perspective to value, whose to avoid. Her essay on Shel [...]

    3. Was actually lovely as far as it went, but very thin and mostly consisted of examples of contradictory versions of events in various writer's lives given in different biographies, demonstrating that biography is never truly objective and is wielded by the biographer in service of a point the biographer wants to make. So it was interesting -- but I found myself wishing it went further. More, I think I loved Lee's Virginia Woolf so much because it opened so many questions for me about my own preco [...]

    4. Lee presents four essays on biography that make for highly-valuable reading for anyone who likes biographies. The second essay, the title of the book, provides her insight into Woolf, Cunningham's novel about Mrs. Dalloway, the Hours, and the production of the film by the same name; Lee writes about her insight in the process, esp. since her biography of Woolf was the one that Cunningham used in writing his Pulitzer Prize winning novel. The introductory essay presents the multifarious problems t [...]

    5. An excellent little book that combines, in the best tradition of Richard Holmes' Footsteps or Dr Johnson and Mr Savage, immense erudition on the subject with a constant questioning of key topics, all of it written in a lively, jargon-free style. Beyond showing how problematic the writing of biographies is (from the point of view of knowledge, of synthesis, against teleological readings etc), Hermione Lee is mostly interested in asking what is, in fine, a life? Can it ever be truly understood? An [...]

    6. A short little volume of semi-academic essays on biography, focusing in turns on biographical treatments of specific parts of the subject's lives. The title essay is on various biographical imaginings of Virginia Woolf, specifically the book and subsequent movie adaptation of The Hours.

    7. I use this book as a textbook for my writing classes. It's wickedly funny by an adept at English biography. And Lee also spikes the howlers in The Hours, a movie, a dreadful take on VA.

    8. This is a wonderful collection of essays by one of the very best biographers. The essays really give a feeling for what writing biography is like, where authors get stuck and inspired.

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