Writing Lives is the Devil by Gale E. Christianson
Essays of a Biographer at Work

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"How can one make a life out of six cardboard boxes full of tailor's bills, love letters and old picture postcards?" asked the novelist Virginia Woolf, who once tried her hand at literary biography. "Yes," she concurred, "writing lives is the devil!" It is also the most widely read form of historical nonfiction. Here, Gale E. Christianson, author of the standard biographies of Isaac Newton, Loren Eiseley, and the founders of modern astronomy, writes eloquently of the subject he knows so well in thirteen essays. Ranging in tone from humorous to melancholy, they trace the complex and fascinating process of creating a biography, from the point of selecting a subject to the book's publication and review. Rather than offer a "how-to-guide," or "art of biography," Christianson delves anecdotally into what does not get into the finished biography. He makes the reader a partner to the creative struggle, to the gathering of the mounds of information, to the sifting and the winnowing, to the writing and the rewriting, to the small triumphs and the nagging doubts when commitment fails to imitate art, as seems inevitable - nothing more and nothing less than the personal reflections of a biographer at work.

About Gale E. Christianson

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Gale E. Christianson is retired from Indiana State University, where he served as Distinguished Professor of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of History. Among his many books are In the Presence of the Creator: Isaac Newton and His Times, Edwin Hubble: Mariner of the Nebulae, and Greenhouse: The 200-Hundred Year Story of Global Warming. He is a Guggenheim Fellow, a Huntington Library Fellow, and the recipient of numerous other grants and awards. Christianson lives in Terre Haute, where he continues to research and write.
Published December 1, 1993 by Archon Books. 229 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Christianson, a history professor at Indiana State University, has written biographies of mathematician Isaac Newton ( In the Presence of the Creator ) and naturalist Loren Eiseley ( Fox at the Wood's Edge ).

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