Quotes by Leon Edel

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(Joseph) Leon Edel (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania September 9, 1907 September 5, 1997) was a North American literary critic who grew up in Saskatchewan and taught English and American literature at New York University, 1966 1972. Though he wrote on James Joyce (James Joyce: The Last Journey, 1947) and on the Bloomsbury group, his lifework is summed up in his five-volume biography of Henry James (Henry James, The Imagination of Genius: A Biography 1953 1972), which epitomizes biography as a literary form, a subject he had discussed in Literary Biography 1959, and enfolds a subjective author's self-perceptions into his literary output. Edel's second and third volumes of the James biography earned him a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award in 1963. The discovery of impassioned but inconclusive letters written in 1875 1876 by James to the Russian aristocrat Paul Zhukovski, while Edel was deep in the process of finishing his biography caused an ethical crisis: his decision was to continue to ignore a peripheral aspect of the celibate and sexually diffident James's life, one which the author himself had worked so hard to efface.

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The secret of biography resides in finding the link between talent and achievement. A biography seems irrelevant if it doesn't discover the overlap between what the individual did and the life that made this possible. Without discovering that, you have shapeless happenings and gossip.

Of the creative spirits that flourished in Concord, Massachusetts, during the middle of the nineteenth century, it might be said that Hawthorne loved men but felt estranged from them, Emerson loved ideas even more than men, and Thoreau loved himself.

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