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The Shadow in the Garden
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The Shadow in the Garden

A Biographer's Tale

By James Atlas
Narrated by George Newbern / 13 hours 34 minutes

The biographer—so often in the shadows, kibitzing, casting doubt, proving facts—comes to the stage in this funny, poignant, endearing tale of how writers’ lives get documented. James Atlas, the celebrated chronicler of Saul Bellow and Delmore Schwartz, takes us back to his own childhood in suburban Chicago, where he fell in love with literature and, early on, found in himself the impulse to study writers’ lives. We meet Richard Ellmann, the great biographer of James Joyce and Atlas’s professor during a transformative year at Oxford. We get to know Atlas’s first subject, the “self-doomed” poet Delmore Schwartz. And we are introduced to a bygone cast of intellectuals such as Edmund Wilson and Dwight Macdonald (the “tall pines,” as Mary McCarthy once called them, cut down now, according to Atlas, by the “merciless pruning of mortality”) and, of course, the elusive Bellow, “a metaphysician of the ordinary.”

Atlas revisits the lives and works of the classical biographers, the Renaissance writers of what were then called “lives,” Samuel Johnson and the obsessive Boswell, and the Victorian masters Mrs. Gaskell and Thomas Carlyle. And in what amounts to a pocket history of his own literary generation, Atlas celebrates the biographers who hoped to glimpse an image of them—“as fleeting as a familiar face swallowed up in a crowd.”

(With black-and-white illustrations throughout)

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Author
Narrator George Newbern
ISBN 9781524783631
Length 13 hours 34 minutes
Language English
Publisher Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date
Edition Unabridged
Libro.fm rank #147,050 Overall
Genre rank #8,654 in Biography & Memoir

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