I dislike modern memoirs. They are generally written by people who have either entirely lost their memories, or have never done anything worth remembering.
Many of the greatest men that have ever lived have written biography. Boswell is one of the smallest men that ever lived and he has beaten them all.
Boswell is the first of biographers.
The affair between Margot Asquinth and Margot Asquinth will live as one of the prettiest love stories in all literature. (From her review in the New Yorker of the Autobiography of Margot Asquinth.)
People think that because a novel is invented, it isn’t true. Exactly the reverse is the case. Biography and memoirs can never be wholly true, since they cannot include every conceivable circumstance of what happened. The novel can do that.
I do not know who my biographer may be, but I should like him to report ‘with what flourish he will’ something like this: ‘I was not a solemn stained-glass saint, existing only for purposes of edification; I existed from my own center, many things that I did were regrettable, I did not respect respectable […]
Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of a man – the biography of the man himself cannot be written.
Have you got Boswell’s most absurd enormous book? Boswell is the ape of most of Johnson’s faults, without a grain of his sense. It is the story of a mountebank and his zany.
Just how difficult it is to write biography can be reckoned by anybody who sits down and considers just how many people know the real truth about his or her love affairs.
Every great man nowadays has his disciples, and it is always Judas who writes the biography.