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Lust for Life: Irving Stone's Biographical Fiction

By Brian Hoey. Jul 14, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Biographies

Historical fiction, of which biographical fiction is a subset, can in many ways be considered one of the earliest literary trends.Writing about history, sometimes real and sometimes imagined, connects Homer’s Iliad (c750 BC) to Shakespeare’s history plays to Robert Coover’s The Public Burning (1977). In the case of the earliest English language novels, it was popular to market even fantastical novels as being the stuff of historical or biographical truth.Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko (1688) and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719), for instance, were presented to contemporary readers in the style of biography, journalism, and recovered documents.In this way, it is easy to take a blasé attitude toward biographical fiction. To do so, however, would be to tragically overlook the literary contributions of Irving Stone.


Historical Literary Depictions of Sir Thomas More

By Leah Dobrinska. Jul 6, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Biographies, History

In 16th Century England, Sir Thomas More had a vast reach. From law and literature to religion and politics, there wasn’t a sphere he didn’t touch. He’s remembered both for his life as a lawyer, writer, and counselor to Henry VIII, and for his death as a Catholic martyr. His legacy lives on through the works that he penned as well as those that others penned about him. Here, we delve in to some of the many depictions of Sir Thomas More.


Famous Holocaust Memoirs

By Audrey Golden. May 22, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Biographies, History

What kind of text do you imagine when you hear the word memoir? The term might be narrowly defined as a biographical narrative that recounts an important historical event, in a linear chronology, from the viewpoint of a witness. Yet the form that these accounts take also can be experimental, playing with notions of contested memory, witness, and testimony. Holocaust memoirs, perhaps more than most other works of literature connected to a particular moment of political violence, have taught readers about the significance of such texts in redefining the ways we think about history and its indelible effects on the present.


James Boswell and the Power of Biography

By Leah Dobrinska. May 18, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Biographies

Biography lends to death a new terror.
-Oscar Wilde

Wilde’s take on biography is most obviously meant to garner a laugh—maybe a nervous one— at the thought of leaving the detailing of one’s life in the hands of another. As a result, perhaps in a roundabout way, Wilde also sheds light on the responsibility that falls to the biographer. After all, biographers hold an incredible power, and they can choose to wield it in a number of ways.


Kaye Gibbons: Reconciling Wounds Through Writing

By Neely Simpson. May 4, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Biographies

Kaye Gibbons's debut novel Ellen Foster (1987), which she wrote at the age of 26, opens with the sentence, "When I was little I would think of ways to kill my daddy." In a letter to her readers Gibbons explains, "Since Ellen Foster is autobiographical, it shouldn't come as a shock that when I was little I would think of ways to kill my daddy. My mother...became too sad and died when I was almost ten..." Back to the book, the fictional character, 11-year-old Ellen Foster says a few lines later, "But I did not kill my daddy. He drank his own self to death a year after the County moved me out." This raw, honest tone penetrates Kaye Gibbons' works, making them poignant reads and lenses into the power of writing through and about pain.


Annie Dillard and the Influence of Henry David Thoreau

By Neely Simpson. Apr 29, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Pulitzer Prize, American Literature, Biographies

"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see." -Henry David Thoreau

Contemporary writer Annie Dillard draws great inspiration from legendary author Henry David Thoreau. Her crowning work, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, is often compared to Thoreau's Walden, for good reason. Here, we briefly explore Dillard's life and work to learn more about how she's both similiar to and different from Thoreau.


Flannery O’Connor and the Civil Rights South

By Audrey Golden. Mar 23, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, American Literature, Biographies

By all accounts, Flannery O’Connor didn’t have much of an activist voice in the American Civil Rights Movement despite her role as a prominent Southern novelist and short-story writer. How, then, might we read her works in a 21st-century context? Should we believe the gossip—that she didn’t have much good to say about broadening the country’s conception of equality—even though she appeared to be in favor of integration in her fiction? Many scholars have debated O’Connor’s position with regard to the racial justice, but how should we ultimately remember the author who died just a month after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 went into effect?


Bret Easton Ellis and the Darker Side of Literary Fiction

By Katie Behrens. Mar 6, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Horror, Literature, Biographies, Movie Tie-Ins

There are writers who revel in the sophisticated circles of the literary world – attending parties in New York, rubbing elbows with publishers, blurbing the books of debut authors. And then there are writers like Bret Easton Ellis who could not care less. Ellis has come to be known as a sort of “bad boy” of literary fiction. His novels are dark, disturbing, and populated by characters filled with malaise.


How James Boswell Revolutionized Copyright Law

By Kristin Masters. Oct 27, 2014. 7:09 PM.

Topics: Literature, Biographies

Born on October 29, 1740 James Boswell is best remembered for his momentous Life of Johnson. Often regarded as the most important biography written in the English language, Boswell's masterpiece is certainly an incredible contribution to the world of literature and books. But during his own lifetime, Boswell was much better known for another contribution: his role in the establishment of new copyright law for the United Kingdom.


Doyle Brunson- Poker Legend!

By Anne Cullison. Aug 8, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Biographies

If anyone has a poker face, it is Doyle Brunson. Born on August 10, 1933, he was the first player to earn $1,000,000 in poker tournaments and has won ten World Series of Poker tournaments throughout his career. A master of the game, Brunson is ranked second for all time in poker play.


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