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  • Editors’ Note

With this issue, we note the retirement of Gabriel Merle as a contributing editor for our “Reviewed Elsewhere” feature. Started in the Summer issue of 1987, this section has provided synopses of reviews found in a wide range of international publications, offering readers of Biography a quarterly update on the appearance of major new biographies and autobiographies, and a sense of their critical reception. Over the years, the general coordinating editor of “Reviewed Elsewhere,” Biography ’s Reviews Editor and University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Professor of French Marie-José Fassiotto, has recruited and replaced editors who scan particular sources of book reviews, abstract salient sections of the commentary, and then send them in for inclusion in each issue’s installment.

One of Marie-José’s brilliant and successful recruits was Gabriel Merle. He was a firm friend of this journal many years before it was even published. In his 1999 contribution to Editor Emeritus George Simson’s festschrift (Biography 22.1), Merle describes first meeting his fellow Stracheyan in 1965, and immediately hearing about plans for an academic journal devoted to biography. Three years after the first issue appeared, he was one of the distinguished invited speakers at the New Directions in Biography Conference held in Honolulu in 1981—he spoke on “Five Types of Contemporary French Biography.” And in 1986, he contributed a review of Daniel Madelénat’s La Biographie to the now well-established journal.

His own academic credentials are impeccable. Professor emeritus at the University Denis-Diderot (Paris VII), he has written biographies of Lytton Strachey and Emile Combes, and he was the founder and co-editor of the journal Néologie Lexicale from 1986 to 1997. But for Biography, his quarterly contributions to “Reviewed Elsewhere” have insured that English-language scholars throughout the world have had access to the reception of important life writing texts in France.

He was responsible for selecting the reviews from Le Monde des Livres. Unlike most of our other “Reviewed Elsewhere” editors, he then also translated his abstracts into English—a formidable task for anyone less comfortable in both languages than Gabriel Merle. For eighteen years, his contributions offered the life writing scholarly community not only a regular update on significant publications, but also a window onto the critical reception of French biography and autobiography. [End Page v]

We will miss receiving his installments, and we take this opportunity to thank him for his expertise, for his many contributions to the field of life writing, and for his exemplary service to, and strong support of, a journal that he first heard about when meeting a new friend in Paris forty-six years ago. [End Page vi]