Of Memories and Madeleines

From London to Longoio (and Lucca and beyond) Part One

Reconstruction of a person’s past life is not something to be left to biographers or psychoanalysts. Many famous people of the past actually didn’t want a biography to be written about them, most notably George Orwell. (Yet almost half of his complete works consists of letters and articles which more than make up an autobiography and have provided valuable material for the spate of biographies that have come out since that momentous year, 1984).

Interpretation of a person’s life, rather than reconstruction, is the sticking point prompting the dislike of biography for many eminent personalities. One could get round this by writing one’s official autobiography, of course, which is the standard apologia many politicians use to avoid being cast into the black book of fate.

Interpretation can be useful on a personal basis: why did one reach that decision? Why did one land up here? What happened to cause this…

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