Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Poetry as biography, biography as poetry

Ian Hamilton's biography In Search of J.D. Salinger is as much a reflection on the nature of the genre itself as a story of the the man's life. This might have initially been down to legal reasons (Hamilton's original effort had to be pulped), but the end result is excellent.

While reading it recently, I was again reminded of parallels between poetry and biography, above all in the treatment of subject matter. Even though they may often deny doing so (even to themselves), the practitioners of both genres take fact and transform it into fiction. They take fiction and transform it into fact. They play at blurring the two.

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