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Sex in Biography

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Chapter Summary

This chapter raises the general question of the importance of sex in biography. One may welcome the freedom of modern biography from hagiography while questioning its overemphasis upon sexual psychology. The relevance of sex in biography must be largely determined by the character and temperament of what Mr. Bernard Shaw calls the 'biographee', rather than by the more or less morbid prepossessions of the biographer. The happiest sex life is one that has no history, and biography is neither more nor less concerned with sex than with digestion. Carlyle's indigestion, Gibbon's hydrocele, Napoleon's cancer, the erysipelas of Frederick the Great, add not one cubit to one's knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of these men. Sex in biography, as in life itself, is simultaneously essential and unimportant, save when nothing else of importance is afoot.

Keywords: Bernard Shaw; biographee; biography; Frederick the Great; hagiography; sex; sexual psychology

10.1163/9789004274709_017
/content/books/b9789004274709s017
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