Jamesian analysis

When I read a biography, I usually find myself poking, like a nosy houseguest, into shadowy corners that the author, for whatever reason, left unlit. One can find the facts of a life—birth and death dates, education, major accomplishments—anywhere, instantly. In a biography, I want to come to know the subject slowly, as his or her contemporaries might have: in glimpses, through sidelong moments, by the intimate, shaping connections he or she made. I want to know about the spouse, the friend, the child—not as accessory half-people but as multidimensional beings with their own stories to tell. Seeing how their own contours complemented or grated against those of the main figure reveals much human truth about the whole community.

 

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