A biography is like a handshake down the years, that can become an arm-wrestle.
A great biography should, like the close of a great drama, leave behind it a feeling of serenity. We collect into a small bunch the flowers, the few flowers, which brought sweetness into a life, and present it as an offering to an accomplished destiny. It is the dying refrain of a completed song, the final verse of a finished poem.
A well-written life is almost as rare as a well-spent one.
All good biography, as all good fiction, comes down to the study of original sin, of our inherent disposition to choose death when we ought to choose life.
Almost any biographer, if he respects facts, can give us much more than another fact to add to our collection. He can give us the creative fact; the fertile fact; the fact that suggests and engenders.
An autobiography is a preemptive strike against biographers.
Anyone who profits from the experience of others probably writes biographies.
Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of the man. The biography of the man himself cannot be written.
Biography is a higher gossip.
Biography is a very definite region bounded on the north by history, on the south by fiction, on the east by obituary, and on the west by tedium.
Biography is history seen through the prism of a person.
Biography is one of the new terrors of death.
Biography is: a system in which the contradictions of a human life are unified.
Biography should be written by an acute enemy.
For what is a poem, but a hazardous attempt at self-understanding. It is the deepest part of autobiography.
Formerly we used to canonize our heroes. The modern method is to vulgarize them. Cheap editions of great books may be delightful, but cheap editions of great men are absolutely detestable.
Great geniuses have the shortest biographies.
History is the essence of innumerable biographies.
I am opposed to writing about the private lives of living authors and psychoanalyzing them while they are alive. Criticism is getting all mixed up with a combination of the Junior F.B.I. -men, discards from Freud and Jung and a sort of Columnist peep-hole and missing laundry list school. Every young English professor sees gold in them dirty sheets now. Imagine what they can do with the soiled sheets of four legal beds by the same writer and you can see why their tongues are slavering.
I have not much interest in anyone's personal history after the tenth year, not even my own. Whatever one was going to be was all prepared before that.