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A biography isn't a history?
I am coming to agree with this.
Does he mean auto biographies like Ben Franklin, U S Grant and Winston Churchill produced.The level of fiction does go way up when men who were not there tell tall tales about what probably happened.
Disraeli failed to anticipate Lytton Strachey.
"The level of fiction does go way up when men who were not there tell tall tales about what probably happened."Indeed so. There is, most assuredly, no fiction in either of Barack Obama's New York Times best-selling autobiographies.
The same was said before by Montaigne and after by Emerson
Tommy Carlyle would disagree.
Chip S. said... Disraeli failed to anticipate Lytton Strachey.------------------Bitterly ironic post..but a thread winner
Here's a Disraeli quote for Althouse:"Be amusing: never tell unkind stories; above all, never tell long ones."
There is no biography without history and history is usually more interesting.
"Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory."But for God's sake stay away from autobiography, unless you are a student of self-serving mendacity.
"But for God's sake stay away from autobiography, unless you are a student of self-serving mendacity."Its either very, very good, or very very bad. Cf: "Memoirs of US Grant" and "Dreams of My father"
As long as the biography is not BS märchen (look at Obama's) I can agree with him.But sadly many biographies are just promotions of viewpoint and not fully fact based.
rcocean said...Its either very, very good, or very very bad. Cf: "Memoirs of US Grant" and "Dreams of My father"I actually thought about Grant after I wrote that. His Memoirs is the exception that proves the rule. Compare it to Eisenhower's Crusade in Europe. I expected Eisenhower to be somewhat modest, but Crusade is basically about how everyone sucked except for Eisenhower.
History without theory is not biography. History without theory is genealogy.
"I expected Eisenhower to be somewhat modest, but Crusade is basically about how everyone sucked except for Eisenhower."You mean Monty?
Monty, DeGaulle, even Churchill.
Disraeli's autobiography was a vast disappointment to me, thin and empty of scandal or revelations. But I note he said biography, not autobiography.
Imagine Obama saying something like that?
Not to disagree with the eminent Disraeli, but that's horrid advice. No one's ever gotten better educated by ignoring entire areas of study. The better advice would be to read everything critically, and work to understand context beyond any single piece. Unfortunately, pithy statements like "read no history" lends itself to being quoted better. Sad, but true.
The last biography I read way "Khrushchev: A Political Life" by Wm. J. Tompson. And it was well worth reading.But if you read only biographies you'll miss a great deal of history- such as, what life was like for Everyman, and the nature of (for example) popular culture.BTW, there's an interesting article in Vanity Fair, which asserts that popular culture has been mostly frozen for the last 20 years or so.http://www.vanityfair.com/style/2012/01/prisoners-of-style-201201
Everyone sucked except for Patton.wv: tobici - or not tobici
@rcocean"I have a phobia of Benjamin Disraeli's hair." - Billy Bob Thorton.Just thought I'd lob this into the thread for no reason other than it amuses me (Thorton also fears antique Louis Quatorze baroque furniture).
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