Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill: A Brief Account of a Long LifeForty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill: A Brief Account of a Long Life by Gretchen Rubin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book several years ago, and its theme frequently comes to mind when someone is being "discussed" in the media.

Many scenes have come and gone unwritten, since it is today the 4th of Sept, a cold grey blowy day, made memorable by the sight of a kingfisher, and by my sense, waking early, of being again visited by "the spirit of delight." "rarely rarely comest thou, spirit of delight." That was I singing this time last year; and sang so poignantly that I have never forgotten it, or my vision of a fin rising on a wide blank sea. No biographer could possibly guess this important fact about my life in the late summer of 1926: yet biographers pretend they know people. —Virginia Woolf, Diaries, September 4, 1927

Churchill biographers—like all biographers—decide their stories and include facts to support them. Someone portraying Churchill as the savior of his country chooses certain facts; someone debunking the Churchill myth chooses others. In deciding what facts to relate—where each detail must stand in for hundreds of omitted details—biographers act like novelists, using theme, irony, motif, metonymy, description, symbolism, morals, and the like to shape a particular image of their subject.

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