Towards a Poetics of Literary Biography

Authors: Benton, Michael

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About this book

Drawing upon a wide range of biographies of literary subjects, from Shakespeare and Wordsworth to William Golding and V.S. Naipaul, this book develops a poetics of literary biography based on the triangular relationships of lives, works and times and how narrative operates in holding them together. Biography is seen as a hybrid genre in which historical and fictional elements are imaginatively combined. It considers the roles of story-telling, factual data in the art of life-writing, and the literariness of its language. It includes a case study of the biography of Ellen Terry, discussion of the controversial relationship between a subject's life and works, 'biographical criticism' and, through the issue of gender, the social and cultural changes biographies reflect. It frames a poetics on the basis of its strategy and tactics and demonstrates how the literal truth of verifiable data and the poetic truth of what is narrated are interdependent.

About the authors

Michael Benton is Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Southampton, UK. His publications include Teaching Literature 9 – 14 (with Geoff Fox) and several anthologies of poetry, notably Touchstones (with Peter Benton). His most recent books are Studies in the Spectator Role: Literature, Painting & Pedagogy (2000) and Literary Biography: An Introduction (2009).

Reviews

“Biography is a hybrid form that as a narrative resembles the novel, and as a factual record resembles history. … The strongest sections of the book are devoted to case studies of biographers like Michael Holroyd and Richard Holmes, and to the nature of biography as it has evolved in generations of biographers working on Jane Austen and George Eliot. … Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.” (C. Rollyson, Choice, Vol. 53 (10), June, 2016)

"A polished and focused piece of work, which will make a significant contribution to the literature on life-writing, and in particular biographical writing. The author is at all times judicious and informed in his discussions of both the biographies and of the writers they explore. The writing is lucid and insightful." - Laura Marcus, Goldsmiths' Professor of English Literature, University of Oxford, UK


Table of contents (7 chapters)

Table of contents (7 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook $84.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-1-137-54958-7
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $109.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-137-54957-0
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.

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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Towards a Poetics of Literary Biography
Authors
Copyright
2015
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan UK
Copyright Holder
Michael Benton
eBook ISBN
978-1-137-54958-7
DOI
10.1057/9781137549587
Hardcover ISBN
978-1-137-54957-0
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XI, 165
Topics