y Biography : The Impossible Art? single work   essay  
Issue Details: First known date: 2007... 2007 Biography : The Impossible Art?
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Inga Clendinnen reflects on the nature of biographical and autographical writing and on the role of story telling for the human species. In conclusion, she asserts the 'transformative magic' of narrative as it admits 'us to experiences not our own, it expands and refreshes our lives. In "real" life we can participate in the inner life of another person only briefly, in moments of love, or grief, or possibly in shared aesthetic delight. In history we do it in pangs - pangs you live for: "now, at this moment, I think I see how it was for them." We pursue it, whether we are reading or writing, in biography and autobiography, hallooing through the thickets. It may only be in art that we can bask in it.'


  • Text of the 2007 National Biography Award Lecture; originally presented at the State Library of Victoria, 7 November 2007.
  • Epigraph: Biography pretends that a life can be told, when experience teaches us that it cannot. We suppress the knowledge, because we have a need for stories, a need to make sense of lives. - Virginia Woolf, 'Sketches of the Past', Moments of Being (1976)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

      2007 .
      Link: U3011Web resource Sighted: 30/06/2010
      • Transcript and audio file available on the website of the State Library of Victoria.
Last amended 30 Jun 2010 16:08:47
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