Biography, vol. 21, no. 1 (1998)

Editor’s Note, p. v


Family Portrait: Churchills at Drink. pp. 1-23
Marvin Rintala

Many British politicians have been heavy drinkers. Winston Churchill was certainly among them, but his drinking was more an expression of his personality than of his occupational environment. The root of his drinking was the life-long depression caused by the coldness of his father, Lord Randolph Churchill, himself a heavy drinker. Winston Churchill’s heavy drinking was in turn reflected by that of three of his children, Diana, Sarah, and Randolph, all of whom lived and died in sad circumstances. The most helpful background for visualizing Winston Churchill at drink would therefore be his family circle, not his fellow politicians, except for F.E. Smith, his chief drinking companion. Assembling that family circle might have been difficult.

Pessoa, Life Narration, and the Dissociative Process, pp. 24-35
Greg Mahr

The author describes the life story of the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa. Central to Pessoa’s creative work was a dissociative experience in which he became a series of “other” poets that he called heteronyms. The implication of dissociation for life narrative and the creative process are explored.

The New Personalism, pp. 36-49
Herman Rapaport

Taking H. Aram Veeser’s Confessions of the Critics as its text, this article discusses the new personalism in terms of a major contrast between older forms of personalist writing that emphasized the individual as a unique personality facing unique situations, and newer forms of personalist writings that emphasize the self as a typical or collectivized subject who is defined in terms of the banality of the everyday. Among the authors reviewed are Michael Berube, Marianne Hirsch, Gillian Brown, Jane Tompkins, Candace Lang, Linda Orr, and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak.


Political Biography: A Polemical Review of the Genre, pp. 50-57
Patrick K. O’Brien

My “polemic” deals with the biographies of statesmen who operated in the context of established systems of law, conventions, and accountability, and not with dictators and more or less absolute monarchs. I argue that unless a biographer contextualizes his/her
subject in order to deal with (a) problems of validation; (b) the counterfactual problem of dispensability; and (c) connections between the “life” and the achievements, then the genre is not useful for understanding political institutions, historical change, and the role of statesmen in history.

REVIEWS, pp. 58-98

Excerpts from recent reviews of biographies, autobiographies, and other works of interest.

LIFELINES, pp. 149-150
Upcoming events, calls for papers, and news from the field.