Biographies these days seem to resemble dumbbells, made as much for physical exercise as for spiritual or intellectual enlightenment; they could also serve as doorstops or defensive weapons against intruders as you try to read them in bed (this requires constant wrestling, even without the intruders). Modern biographers appear to think that facts are like men, created equal, and that none should be left out. I understand the temptation to leave no fact unprinted, for when one has found a fact in the archives it seems a waste of effort if it is not imparted to somebody else. We, however, should always remember what Voltaire said: that the best way to be a bore is to say everything.

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