Tuesday, June 12, 2007
I don't read many biographies because I am not curious enough about other people's lives. A very few biographies matter to me, and they matter to me because they touch my own life at crucial points. Andrew Motion's biography of Philip Larkin explained to me, before I came out as gay, that unfulfilment can be a source of artistic power; it developed that theme like a novel. In Richard Davenport-Hines' biography of Auden, I saw my own flight from country, orchestrated like an opera. And now Hilary Spurling's biography of Matisse grips me with a familiar power: in its depiction of the artist's struggles, of his wife's devotion to his art, of his artistic breakthroughs, it beguiles like a Romance.