The present buoyancy of literary biography supports the case for a contrasting view, a view which seems to be implicit in the work of all literary biographers: namely, that in practice the reading of literary biography gives a different intellectual process from that indicated by the New Critics, one in which literary understanding is progressive. The book divides the essays into three groups under the following headings: ‘Theory, Culture and Context: The Nature of Literary Biography’, ‘Some Individual Studies’, and ‘Life and Art: The Biographer at Work and the Writer as Biographer’. These divisions reflect the fact that some of the essays address theoretical questions, some are on single authors, and some deal with specific problems that come up in the course of writing biographies. It is hoped that readers of this book will agree that it is fitting that the discussions of literary biography tend to display the same kind pragmatism as does biography itself.
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