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This Long Pursuit: Reflections of a Romantic Biographer

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  • United States
  • English

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From the great biographer of the Romantics, ‘This Long Pursuit’ is a sweeping exploration of a career devoted to the art of life-writing.Thirty years ago Richard Holmes published Footsteps – a revolutionary book that would become a bestseller and influence profoundly a whole generation of younger writers. The Long Pursuit is a companion book in that it ranges widely over the arts, science, poetry and inspiration to reflect upon the practice and importance of biographical writing.Holmes wraps his arguments in an exquisite cloak of many colours,sewn from stories of a myriad different lives. One section of the book is devoted to the biography of women – particularly scientific women who have long suffered the condescension of history. Margaret Cavendish and the lost women of science, Madame de Stael, Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Somerville amongst them.The book includes a light-hearted look at how the popular reputations of some favourite Romantic figures – including the water-logged poet Shelley, the chocolate-box painter Thomas Lawrence, the opium-soaked lecturer Coleridge and the lunatic bard William Blake – have altered spectacularly over time and the river of biography.Lauded for his magnificent book The Age of Wonder and for his earlier biographies of Shelley, Coleridge and Johnson, This Long Pursuit contains some of the finest biographical writing ever published.
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