The article discusses the issue of the so-called “new biography” by underscoring ambiguity of the term and presenting the different variants of “new biography” it encompasses. In order to do that, an introduction is made where the tenets of the classical biography are outlined. The inquiry focuses chiefly on England and the USA, although remarks are also made with respect to biographical writing in other countries. It appears that the term is contemporarily mainly associated with Lytton Strachey’s model of biography which, having been formulated in 1918, proved a breakthrough in life writing, since it operated with ironic detachment from the protagonist. Strachey perceived biography as an art and was determined to speak openly about all spheres of the biographee’s life. The article proves that although other attempts at creating a “new biography” were made after Strachey (by Leon Edel and Jo Burr Margadant), their newness is either derivative and supplementary to Strachey’s achievement, or advances a wholly new notion of biography, with the concept of multiplicity of the protagonist’s self. As the Stracheyan biographical model is almost a century old, one can assume that what is understood as “new biography” is not so new after all. In the meantime, though, biographical practice has taken a turn and a novelistic mode of writing, i.e. biofiction, has become the current paradigm. The author therefore suggests that the present-day understanding of “new biography” be reconsidered by recognizing biofiction as one of the figures of biographical “newness”.
Benton M. 2009, Literary Biography. An Introduction, Chichester.
Buisine A. 1991, Biofictions, Revue des Sciences Humaines, Le Biographique 4, pp. 7-13.
Burr Margadant J. 2000, Introduction. Constructing Selves in Historical Perspective, [in:] eadem (ed.), The New Biography. Performing Femininity in Nineteenth-Century France, Berkeley.
Clifford J.L. 1970, From Puzzles to Portrait. Problems of a Literary Biographer, Chapel Hill.
Clifford J.L. 1962, Introduction, [in:] idem (ed.), Biography as an Art. Selected Criticism 1560-1960, London.
Edel L. 1957, Literary Biography, London.
Edel L. 1987, Writing Lives. Principia Biographica, New York-London.
Egeland M. 2000, Hvem bestemmer over livet?, Oslo.
Garraty J.A. 1957, The Nature of Biography, London.
Guignerry, V. 2007, David Lodge’s ‘Author, author’ and the genre of the biographical novel, Études anglaises 2, 60, pp. 160-172.
Hamilton N. 2007, Biography. A Brief History, Cambridge & London.
Hollinghurst A. 2004, The Middle Fears, The Guardian, 4 September.
Lodge D. 2004, Author, author, New York.
Lodge D. 2006, The Year of Henry James, or Timing is All: the Story of a Novel, London.
Kendall P.M. 1965, The Art of Biography, New York.
Marcus L. 2002, The Newness of the ‘New Biography’; Biographical Theory and Practice in the Early Twentieth Century, [in:] P. France, W. St Clair (ed.), Mapping Lives. The Uses of Biography, Oxford-New York.
Momigliano A. 1993, The Development of Greek Biography, Cambridge-London.
Possing B. 2015, Ind i biografien, København.
Prestwich P.E. 2001, Jo Burr Margadant, The New Biography. Performing Femininity in Nineteenth-Century France, Berkeley: 2000, pp. x, 298., Histoire Sociale/Social History, 34, p. 67 (review).
Sisman A. 2001, Boswell’s Presumptuous Task: Writing the Life of Dr. Johnson, Harmondsworth.
Skidelsky R. 1988, Only Connect: Biography and Truth, [in:] E. Homberger, J. Charmley (eds.), The Troubled Face of Biography, New York.
Strachey L. 1934, Eminent Victorians, London.
Tridgell S. 2004, Understanding Our Selves. The Dangerous Art of Biography, Bern.
White H. 1990, Tropics of Discourse. Essays in Cultural Criticism, Baltimore.
Woolf V. 1967, ’I am Christina Rosetti’, [in:] eadem, Collected Essays, 4, London.
Woolf V. 1958, The New Biography, [in:] eadem, Granite and Rainbow, London.