Sidetracks : explorations of a romantic biographer

by Richard Holmes

Hardcover, 2000




London : HarperCollins, 2000.


""This is the fragmented tale of a single biographical quest," says Holmes, "a thirty-year journey in search of the perfect Romantic subject and the form to fit it."" "Sidetracks pursues this quest through an extraordinary and eclectic assortment of Romantic and Gothic writers and personalities - French, English, Dutch, and American, some major, some minor, but all made hypnotically alive and memorable through Holmes's transforming touch. We meet Chatterton and de Nerval, Mary Wollstonecraft and Godwin, James Boswell and Robert Louis Stevenson, Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda." "With each of these twenty pieces Holmes shows how fluid, playful, and unconstrained the many voices of biography can be. The collection is held together by a subtle autobiographical thread: "To be sidetracked is, after all, to be led astray by a path or an idea, a scent or a tune, and maybe lost forever.""--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Capybara_99
A collection of biographical pieces by a preeminent biography of English Romanticism -- the pieces range widely in style, depth and subject matter, from radio plays and letters, to longer studies of Thomas Chatterton and the marriage of Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin. It is a bit of a unusual book, in my experience at least, short unrelated biographies, with brief introductions from the author about the circumstances in which and reasons for which they were written, but I ended up liking it quite a bit.… (more)
LibraryThing member JBD1
Like Footsteps, an interesting insight into the craft of biography, this time focusing on the little bits that never quite turn into full-scale biographies. A good range of material and a nice read; I was very pleased to find excellent sections on Chatterton and M.R. James.



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