Bankrupt Accounts

From: John Gedsudski <>
Date: Wed Feb 26 2003 - 20:33:55 EST

Will says:
>I studied literary biography with one of the most respected Virginia Woolf
>scholars. At NYU, Mitchell Leaska (who studied with Leon Edel--Henry
>James's biographer) also professed that reading all of the books the author
>was known to read was a biographical key. Finally, this teacher believed
>that writing biography of writers was a matter of uncovering the writer's
>central myth.

That's bogus. If a person is to read all the books Salinger is known to have
read (whatever that means) we still would be in the dark, biographically
speaking. There would be no substantial account of his life, his meaning of
life, and any other big questions resulting from engaging the texts of
Hardy,or Saigo, or Fitzgerald. Even IF one can read all the books a great
author has read, and I still have no idea how one would go about this, aside
from a strategic sifting of the trash and a good eye for book-store
receipts, there is no "biographical key" to be found.

Whomever professed that is pontificating.

I take issue with the belief that writing a biography of a writer is a
matter of unconvering the writer's central myth. Why not just stick with the
tried-but-true method of reading the works, however scant the literary
output may be? The biographical material is already there, it doesn't need
to be peppered by the hearsay and gossipy clap-trap so many biographers
resort to. Yes, I am being my typical john g self, and painting so much with
broad strokes with my fat fingers.
But generalizations beget generalizations.

Read The Catcher in the Rye. Hand copies out to members of the downtrodden
in the USA. They will make their own myth of the writer under a veil of
ignorance, without the assistance of the vile, parasitic and obsequious
gestures of those people who seek to disover the writer's myth. Shame on

The best biographical source being Matt? He has been the most reticent
member of the immediate family. Resents his sister's initiative. Praises his
father's choices. But doesn't tell us about how J.D.Salinger drinks urine,
does he? So what kind of biographical information is he useful for, William?
How can we understand the author without second-hand accounts from
disgruntled hangers-on and resentful off-spring?

By the way I resent you for your remark about bananafish listers
making"anti-professor" remarks. It's anti-intellectualism, Willy. Let's get
the lexicon right. Just because your over fourty doesn't mean you can't be
hip to the lingo. Can you find fault with the phenomena? It's an easy
target, especially with those birkenstock tracks leading us to a door with a
large peace sign on it, behind of which sits a middle-aged instructor with a
receding hair line and a pony tail, writing messages condoning a virtual
protest to a war that hasn't even started yet.

Time for more Green Tea!


John Gedsudski
Adjunct Professor of Sciolism
Northern Philisita Community College
501 Boorish Drive

Add photos to your e-mail with MSN 8. Get 2 months FREE*.

* Unsubscribing? Mail with the message
Received on Wed Feb 26 20:33:57 2003

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Sun Aug 10 2003 - 21:57:33 EDT