In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Book Reviews the 1986 Richard Aldington Symposium, particularly Adrian Barlow's conclusions regarding Aldington's World War I poetry or David Wilkinson 's description of Aldington's activities during the Padworth years (indeed, Wilkinson's findings effectively refute Doyle's claim that "Aldington's life for most of the 1920s contained few of those high moments which can tempt and delight a biographer"). It seems odd that Doyle would not mention connections between the characters in The Colonel's Daughter and the people Aldington knew at Padworth, particularly Miss Helen Mary Mills, the model for Géorgie Smithers, or that he would overlook the relationship between publisher A. S. Frere (actually, A. S. Frere-Reeves) and the novel Seven Against Reeves. At times, such oversights suggest only a cursory reading of available published sources. Despite its flaws, Doyle's book is useful for its narrative of Aldington's life and for inclusion of several details not previously available in published sources. Doyle's extensive research has resulted in comments dispersed throughout the book that inspire speculation on several important aspects of Aldington's life and work. However, many will feel that they will have to look elsewhere for the real Aldington. Fred D. Crawford Central Michigan University The Spirit of Biography Jeffrey Meyers. The Spirit of Biography. Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1989. χ+ 305 pp. $39.95 ACCORDING TO THE DUST JACKET, Professor Meyers has published biographies of Katherine Mansfield, Wyndham Lewis, Ernest Hemingway, Robert Lowell "and his circle," and other books with an evident biographical focus (Homosexuality and Literature, Married to Genius, etc.). He has also edited two books on the subject: The Craft of Literary Biography (1985) and The Biographer's Art (1989). One approaches the present volume wondering what can be in it that can't be found elsewhere—and, indeed, where the busy author found the spirit to publish it. For he hasn't written it, at least not as a book. The eighteen essays collected here were published periodically (with one exception), mainly in Biography and London Magazine; bibliographic details are clearly stated in the end matter. Nor has Meyers done much to shape his materials for a work of the "spirit": the order of presentation is 353 ELT: Volume 33:3 1990 roughly that of the essays' publication dates, with clusters corresponding to his biographies in order of appearance (Mansfield essays, Lewis essays, etc.). The two-page introduction does little to guide the reader in approaching the spirit, although it does group some pieces as concerned with "the dynamics of literary friendships," "how the biographer evaluates and interprets personal memoirs," and "how I did the research and wrote the lives of Mansfield, Lewis and Hemingway." It is these latter groups that make the interest of The Spirit of Biography , for the remaining essays take up biographical by-blows like Hemingway's brush with the F.B.I., the autopsy report on Randall Jarrell, and numerous writers' infatuation with tennis. The group of memoir studies constitutes the most useful portion of the work. We get summaries of the seven filial memoirs of Tolstoy, the eleven memoirs of Lawrence published before his corpse was quite cold, the literary portraits of Lewis (mainly satires in romans à clef and thus not counting as memoirs, yet amusing nonetheless), and the seventeen memoirs of Hemingway that appeared between 1949 and 1980—only part of an apparently open series. The biographer has critically culled all these texts for whatever data and insight they might offer (usually slight, with regard to the ostensible subject, and diagnostic with respect to their authors). They seem to merit no further inspection by literary scholars, whatever their value for segments of the reading public inclined to gossip, morbidity and other prurient interests . If ever a scholarly work has served to put a body of sub-literature to permanent rest, this is it. The meat of this book is in the three essays on how-I-writebiographies . "The Quest for Katherine Mansfield" is almost a primer of technique; Meyers matter-of-factly relates his criteria for choosing a subject (considering and rejecting a number of authors on circumstantial grounds), his dealings with an agent and prospective publishers...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 353-356
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.