Tuesday, 7 July 2009


There are some plans to start a life-writing circle. I quickly listed some books I had in mind, when answering to the question what kind of biographies have inspired me. I am such a junkie of novels that I actually read only a couple of biographies a year. Over the past decade, these titles have talked to me:

Anna Kortelainen: Virginie! (in Finnish)
Mark Simpson: Saint Morrissey
Vikram Seth: Two Lives
Paul Theroux: Sir Vidya’s Shadow
Anna Makkonen: Sinulle (Finnish)
Carol Shields: Jane Austen
Hannah Arendt: Rahel Varnhagen: The Life of a Jewess
Irma Sulkunen: Liisa Eerikintytär (Finnish)
Hanif Kureishi: My Ear at His Heart
Sara Suleri Goodyear: Boys Will Be Boys
Joan Didion: The Year of Magical Thinking
Carolyn Steedman: Landscape for a Good Woman
Mustafa Can: Tätt intill dagarna (Swedish)
Natalie Zemon Davis: Kolme naista, kolme elämää 1600-luvulla. (transl.)
Hélène Cixous: Rootprints
Amos Oz: A Tale of Love and Darkness

If I had to pick one title from this list as the ultimate classic, today I'd pick Carolyn Steedman's Landscape for a Good Woman.
Steedman is one of my gurus in the search for alternative research writing. Landscape can be read by anyone, anywhere; one doesn't have to be an academic to appreciate it. At the same time, it is historically precise and gives the reader tools to start doing similar analyses of his or her own life.

No comments: