ABSTRACT

WRITING OR READING A LIFE STORY, as we've implied by the title of this volume, The Seductions of Biography, has an appeal that challenges the rhetorical victory of postmodernism over the tradition of the self-sufficient individual. Or does it? Reading the title carefully, we see that the attraction to biography is plural, not singular, allowing for multiple pleasures in the postmodern mode that mixes genres and strikes ironic poses. Yet in the past few decades biography as a genre has suffered from a lack of legitimacy in the worlds of contemporary critical theory, social historiography, and even highbrow journalism. While traditionalists vilify attempts to revise the stories of "great men" in curriculum debates, the truth-content of biography is being openly questioned.