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Virginia Woolf's Nose (review)

Virginia Woolf's Nose (review) 04-Reviews_295-326 6/24/05 8:22 AM Page 309 Reviews 309 Hermione Lee. Virginia Woolf ’s Nose. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2005. 134 pp. ISBN 0-6911-2032-3, $19.95. Who owns a life? How does a biographer shape a story from fragments of a subject’s experiences? What does a biographer do when confronted with silences and gaps? How does a biographer resist or weigh competing versions of a life? And how does the trajectory of a life inform, and even create, the rendering of a subject’s death? These are some of Hermione Lee’s central questions in four insightful essays collected in Virginia Woolf ’s Nose. Lee, biographer of Woolf and Willa Cather, acknowledges the “messy, often contradictory” nature of the craft of biography—a genre that draws upon history, psychology, literary criticism, and sociology, but also fiction, rumor, and gossip. “Shelley’s Heart and Pepys’s Lobsters” focuses on the peculiar evidence inherent in body parts: Napoleon’s penis, for one, Yeats’s bones, and in particular Percy Bysshe Shelley’s heart. On July 8, 1822, Shel- ley and some friends drowned off the coast of Italy during a sudden squall. After ten days, the decaying bodies washed up on shore and hastily were buried in quicklime to prevent the spread http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Biography University of Hawai'I Press

Virginia Woolf's Nose (review)

Biography , Volume 28 (2) – Aug 3, 2005

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Publisher
University of Hawai'I Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2005 Biographical Research Center.
ISSN
0162-4962
eISSN
1529-1456

Abstract

04-Reviews_295-326 6/24/05 8:22 AM Page 309 Reviews 309 Hermione Lee. Virginia Woolf ’s Nose. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2005. 134 pp. ISBN 0-6911-2032-3, $19.95. Who owns a life? How does a biographer shape a story from fragments of a subject’s experiences? What does a biographer do when confronted with silences and gaps? How does a biographer resist or weigh competing versions of a life? And how does the trajectory of a life inform, and even create, the rendering of a subject’s death? These are some of Hermione Lee’s central questions in four insightful essays collected in Virginia Woolf ’s Nose. Lee, biographer of Woolf and Willa Cather, acknowledges the “messy, often contradictory” nature of the craft of biography—a genre that draws upon history, psychology, literary criticism, and sociology, but also fiction, rumor, and gossip. “Shelley’s Heart and Pepys’s Lobsters” focuses on the peculiar evidence inherent in body parts: Napoleon’s penis, for one, Yeats’s bones, and in particular Percy Bysshe Shelley’s heart. On July 8, 1822, Shel- ley and some friends drowned off the coast of Italy during a sudden squall. After ten days, the decaying bodies washed up on shore and hastily were buried in quicklime to prevent the spread

Journal

BiographyUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Aug 3, 2005

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