Biography, vol. 29, no. 2 (2006)

Biography 29.2 cover imageEditors’ Note, p. v


Hsuan L. Hsu
Personality, Race, and Geopolitics in Joseph Heco’s Narrative of a Japanese, p. 273
Joseph Heco, a Japanese castaway who spent the 1850s working and studying in the US, played a significant role as translator, entrepreneur, and advisor after returning to Japan. This article examines the circum-Pacific contexts and stylistic idiosyncrasies of Heco’s autobiographical Narrative of a Japanese, arguing that its formal flaws reflect disjunctions between the conventions of equality that underwrite Western autobiography and the uneven conditions governing Japan’s forced modernization.

Catherine Scott
Time Out of Joint: The Narcotic Effect of Prolepsis in Christopher Reeve’s Still Me, p. 307
In this article I examine Christopher Reeve’s memoir Still Me, in which Reeve explores the painful and traumatic shift from his previous able-body to his present disabled body. I explore not only the way in which Reeve struggles with his public image as Superman, but also the way in which Reeve’s narrative continually fast forwards through episodes of pain and suffering, in order to keep the strong and powerful image of the Super-Crip intact.

James Walter
The Utility of Short Lives, p. 329
“Short lives” were the earliest manifestations of biography. Their memorializing intent remains alive (in obituaries and biographical dictionaries). That said, these essays were tendentious—making arguments, or exemplifying moral conduct—rather than simply celebrating individuals. Given that biography, since the romantic age, has tended to celebrate individuals, what can we learn by revisiting more tendentious “brief lives”? This article suggests that some research agendas and some disciplinary imperatives are conducive to short lives. Noting the ways in which tendentious essays are deployed in current life writing, this article identifies generic differences between full-scale biography and (contemporary) short lives to argue that the potential of the latter should be more fully appreciated.


Encyclopedia of Women’s Autobiography, edited by Victoria Boynton and Jo Malin, p. 338
Reviewed by Maureen Perkins

Autobiographical Writing and British Literature, 1783–1834, by James Tredwell, p. 341
Reviewed by Julian North

How to Make It as a Woman: Collective Biographical History from Victoria to the Present, by Alison Booth, p. 344
Reviewed by Mary Ellis Gibson

Graham R: Rosamund Marriott Watson, Woman of Letters, by Linda K. Hughes, p. 349
Reviewed by Celeste Pottier

Boudica: Iron Age Warrior Queen, edited by R. Hingley and L. Unwin, p. 351
Reviewed by A. T. Fear

The Making of Saints: Contesting Sacred Ground, edited by James Hopgood, p. 354
Reviewed by Samantha Barbas

The Lives of Women: A New History of Inquisitorial Spain, by Lisa Vollendorf, p. 357
Reviewed by Barbara F. Weissberger

I Am Aztlán: The Personal Essay in Chicano Studies, edited by Chon A. Noriega and Wendy Belcher, p. 360
Reviewed by Carlos Gallego

Soi-disant: Life Writing in French, edited by Julian de Nooy, Joe Hardwick, and Barbara E. Hanna, p. 362
Reviewed by Cécile Hanania

Le Journal Intime: Genre littéraire et écriture ordinaire, by Françoise Simonet-Tenant, p. 364
Reviewed by Sonia Wilson

The Closest of Strangers: South African Women’s Life Writing, edited by Judith Lütge Coullie, p. 367
Reviewed by Sam Raditlhalo

Telling Lives in India: Biography, Autobiography, and Life History, edited by David Arnold and Stuart Blackburn, p. 375
Reviewed by Julie F. Codell

City Bushman: Henry Lawson and the Australian Imagination, by Christopher Lee, p. 380
Reviewed by Nathanael O’Reilly

Rethinking Orientalism: Women, Travel, and the Ottoman Harem, by Reina Lewis, p. 383
Reviewed by Gillian Whitlock

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

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