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Objection is often raised against realistic biography because it reveals so much that is important and even sacred about a man's life. The real objection to it will rather be found in the fact that it reveals about a man the precise points which are unimportant. It reveals and asserts and ...
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• Table of contents with working links to chapters is included
• The book has been corrected for spelling and grammatical errors
• New and improved version

Objection is often raised against realistic biography because it reveals so much that is important and even sacred about a man's life. The real objection to it will rather be found in the fact that it reveals about a man the precise points which are unimportant. It reveals and asserts and insists on exactly those things in a man's life of which the man himself is wholly unconscious; his exact class in society, the circumstances of his ancestry, the place of his present location. These are things which do not, properly speaking, ever arise before the human vision. They do not occur to a man's mind; it may be said, with almost equal truth, that they do not occur in a man's life. A man no more thinks about himself as the inhabitant of the third house in a row of Brixton villas than he thinks about himself as a strange animal with two legs. What a man's name was, what his income was, whom he married, where he lived, these are not sanctities; they are irrelevancies.

A very strong case of this is the case of the Brontës. The Brontë is in the position of the mad lady in a country village; her eccentricities form an endless source of innocent conversation to that exceedingly mild and bucolic circle, the literary world. The truly glorious gossips of literature, like Mr Augustine Birrell and Mr Andrew Lang, never tire of collecting all the glimpses and anecdotes and sermons and side-lights and sticks and straws which will go to make a Brontë museum. They are the most personally discussed of all Victorian authors, and the limelight of biography has left few darkened corners in the dark old Yorkshire house. And yet the whole of this biographical investigation, though natural and picturesque, is not wholly suitable to the Brontës. For the Brontë genius was above all things deputed to assert the supreme unimportance of externals. Up to that point truth had always been conceived as existing more or less in the novel of manners. Charlotte Brontë electrified the world by showing that an infinitely older and more elemental truth could be conveyed by a novel in which no person, good or bad, had any manners at all. Her work represents the first great assertion that the humdrum life of modern civilisation is a disguise as tawdry and deceptive as the costume of a 'bal masqué.' She showed that abysses may exist inside a governess and eternities inside a manufacturer; her heroine is the commonplace spinster, with the dress of merino and the soul of flame. It is significant to notice that Charlotte Brontë, following consciously or unconsciously the great trend of her genius, was the first to take away from the heroine not only the artificial gold and diamonds of wealth and fashion, but even the natural gold and diamonds of physical beauty and grace. Instinctively she felt that the whole of the exterior must be made ugly that the whole of the interior might be made sublime. She chose the ugliest of women in the ugliest of centuries, and revealed within them all the hells and heavens of Dante.
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940013109582
  • Publisher: vladislav sogan
  • Publication date: 8/14/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 149 KB

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2007

    A book for sipping, meditating and merriment.

    This little book is for meditating, not for skimming. It is wise enough for us to pray over, worldly enough to be fun. It is like a Picasso sketch, not a Rembrandt group portrait. *** Here are Chesterton's 12 characters and a few words about each: *** '1' Charlotte Bronte. A humdrum personal life and stories told of ugly externals masking abysses. *** '2' William Morris. He so disliked the 19th Century that he beautified it through his decorative art it by re-creating it as a classical and medieval past. *** '3' Byron. His affected pessimism was only the blackboard on which he wrote with white chalk. *** '4' Pope. Do you disdain his classical antithetical couplets or satirical single lines such as 'Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer?' Do you find such a line facile, superficial? Fine. Then just you try writing more profound verse in fewer than five times as many words! *** '5' Francis of Assisi: probably the happiest, merriest man who ever lived. And the most ascetic. At his core he was a poet. He believed profoundly in other people. *** '6' Rostand. CYRANO DE BERGERAC was initially subtitled 'An Heroic Comedy.' Is such a thing possible? Nowadays we expect our heroes to be tragic or at least serious. But Shakespeare and Sterne wrote serious comedy. So why not Rostand, too? CYRANO is 'a paradise of lovers, in which it is not difficult to imagine that men could talk poetry all day long.' *** '7' King Charles II: 'one of the idlest men of one of the idlest epochs.' He was also a wholesome and systematic sceptic, not a cafeteria one. He died Roman Catholic and a sceptic. 'The wafer might not be God, similarly it might not be a wafer.' *** '8' Robert Louis Stevenson. He wore many disguises. Pessimism was one of them. Romance, or the possibilities of things, to Stevenson, 'was far more important than mere occurrences.' *** '9' Thomas Carlyle: he was great because he believed in his message. He was not great because he did not try all that hard to make other men believe his message. Carlyle was the founder of modern irrationalism. He was a mystic, that is, he embraced common sense. *** '10' Tolstoy. Whitman turned to reality to see how much he could accept, Tolstoy to see how much he could reject. Yet the Count's stories are moral fables. Like Christ in his more extreme utterances, what Tolstoy offers is 'sanity preached to a planet of lunatics.' Like Quakers and Edward Lear, Tolstoy preached the power of passive resistance and persuasion. His negations were like the negations of Puritanism. Both shall pass. *** '11' Savonarola: saved men from smugness, from order, paralysis and luxury. He warned us not to 'get used to happiness.' Savonarola told men to start noticing the simplicities again. His friend Michaelangelo would have happily tossed his masterpieces into the monk's Bonfire of the Vanities, had he thought the light transfiguring the he sky 'was the dawn of a younger and wiser world.' *** '12' The Position of Sir Walter Scott. 'He was a chaotic and unequal writer.' His were 'endless prefaces and colossal introductions.' He is generally judged to write too long. But why shouldn't a pleasant romance be long, be savored? Are we moderns right to 'desire to get quickly through a story?' Must we regard a novel as a pill to be swallowed now to do us good afterwards? Scott tastes 'it like a glass of port' to do him good right now. 'The reader sits late at his banquets.' *** Romance is mystery and mystery is greatness. Romance is not toying with life. Scott's romances arouse the soul by showing certain places or human crises. In selecting evocative situations 'Scott has never been equalled or even approached.' Scott's truest adventures are leisurely, of a man with 'the sword by the side and the wine-cup in the hand.' Sir Wal

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2012

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