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Absolute Artist. The Historiography of a Concept by Catherine M. Soussloff

By Catherine M. Soussloff

This can be the 1st e-book to research the artist's biography as a rhetorical shape and literary style instead of as an unassailable resource of truth and data.

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30 Put succinctly, auteur theory enthroned the director-creator as it attempted to define all genre according to formal ideals: However, auteur criticism is quite distinct from genre criticism. Genre criticism of the Western, for example, presupposes an ideal form for the genre. Directors may deviate from this form, but only at their own peril. The late Robert Warshow's celebrated essay on the Western described how a variety of directors failed to achieve Warshow's idealized archetype of the genre.

The term biography, therefore, describes writing about a life distinctly human, relating to society at large and different from other life forms. 50 We therefore include in the term biography considerations of a way of living over a period of time determined by society to be distinctly human and inclusive of the moral and material productions of the life. 51 The earlier term in English for the form was life; in Italian and Latin the term was vita. 52 Indeed, even before the emergence of the term biography, the earlier Lives of famous writers and artists were often written with an academic institution in mind: Giorgio Vasari's relationship to the Accademia del Disegno in Florence figures large in his series of Lives; Giovanni Bellori's Lives were addressed, in part, to the French Academy; Boswell's Life of Johnson has the Royal Academy governing aspects of its discourse.

38 / On the Threshold of Historiography The use of the term biography in the eighteenth century is also coincident with the classification and separation of various life forms by science, a result of the scientific revolution of the preceding century. 54 Here the "attainment of a predetermined endpoint is seen as the purpose of life . . "55 "Life itself," a term Franklin borrows from Foucault's Archaeology of Knowledge, did not appear as a concept until after the Darwinian theories of evolution.

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