Richard Holmes is the renowned biographer of Shelley and Keats and of books about biography, especially Footsteps: Adventures of a Romantic Biographer. He is a Romantic in two senses: his subjects are Romantic poets, and his view of biography is suffused with the importance of feeling as a form of knowledge. So he writes in This Long Pursuit that the biographer should “physically pursue his subject through the past.” The biographer has to be there, Holmes insists, to get inside his subject: “He must feel how they once were.” Among biographers this notion has taken hold and made of Holmes himself a romantic figure––the fellow who has been there and done that. He serves, too, as a rebuke to armchair biographers who do not rough it (sleeping outdoors and braving all weathers) as Holmes has done in his (it...


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