Biography

Currently I am writing a biography for a friend who has had a very interesting life thus far. It was his suggestion but I am enjoying the meetings, the jokes, the wide range of things I am learning about medicine, farming, horses, art…..

But what caused me to write this quick piece where normally I post poetry was a quote from one of Oxford University Press’s Very Short Introductions; this one to biography. I’m reading the second section which delves into that most famous biography, Boswell’s Life of Johnson. The author, Hermione Lee makes an interesting statement that I will cross post to my ‘An Historian looks at the West’ blog:

The democratization and secularization of knowledge, the growing dominance of realistic fiction as a popular genre, the increasing variety of available reading materials, involved a book trade and a literary market place (mainly centred on London) of the utmost energy, competitiveness, brutality, and complexity. [p. 43 Lee, Hermione. Biography : a Very Short Introduction. Oxford ;: Oxford University Press, 2009.]

I had to see the similarity to the early 21st century when new ways of writing emerged with a new eBook trade in its train. I write poetry online and publish it as eBooks mostly on Apple Books because there I can include multimedia.

word paintings

My opening page or landing page or main page (take your pick) of my writing site focuses on how I see the words I write, whether they be poems or prose, fiction or history. I try to paint pictures with words. Today I happened to catch part of a talk sponsored by Le Gallerie degli Uffizi called Seeing like Dante: annotation and illustration in the Dante Valliciellano. This refers to a copy of the Commedia held in this very special library in Roma. Fortunately for me the talk was almost entirely in English and was therefore informative and interesting.

Particularly, the theme running through the talk was how poetry and painting merge to produce sensations – words to give birth to images and images to speak like poems. I copied two quotes on slides from this talk by Bill Sherman. As I commented in the comments box at the 30:52 mark: “This is similar to that first bite of a perfect butter tart, coating the tongue with taste buds sending creamy bursts of pleasure to my heart, mind and soul.”

I hope the quotes speak for themselves as they express my joy in words but obviously I am not new to this joy!