The Observer has declared the recently released title This Long Pursuit, "heaven for Holmes's fans" and they're not the only ones won over by his brilliant new work of non-fiction.
This Long Pursuit is a confessional chronicle and pilgrimage that takes biographer Richard Holmes across three centuries, through much of Europe and into both his intellectual passions as well as the lively company of many earlier biographers.
'If our world is to be saved, we must understand it both scientifically and imaginatively’. So writes biographer Richard Holmes in This Long Pursuit, a kaleidoscope of stories and meditations in which he revisits two hundred working notebooks, and celebrates his beloved art of biography, calling it the vital handshake across time, cultures, beliefs, disciplines and genders.
Ranging widely over art, science and poetry, Holmes confesses to a lifetime’s obsession with his Romantic subjects a pursuit or pilgrimage of the heart.
Central to this quest is a powerful and tender evocation of the lives of women, both scientific and literary some well-known and some almost lost: Margaret Cavendish, Mary Somerville, Germaine de Stal, Mary Wollstonecraft and the Dutch intellectual, Zlide.
The book also reviews the controversial reputations of some favourite Romantic figures: the love-stunned Keats, the water-logged poet Shelley, the chocolate-box painter Thomas Lawrence, the opium-soaked genius Coleridge, and the mad-visionary bard, William Blake.
The diversity of Holmes’s material is testimony to his empathy, his erudition and his enquiring spirit; and also sometimes to his mischief. He offers a unique insider’s account of a biographer at work: travelling, teaching, researching, fantasising, forgetting, and even ballooning. From this great chronicler of the Romantics now comes a chronicle of himself and his intellectual passions. This Long Pursuit contains his most personal and seductive writing.
Praise for This Long Pursuit
‘A must read … intriguing and satisfying … All the sketches makes illuminating reading, in many cases deliberately setting out to provoke a rethink of earlier biographies … I thoroughly enjoyed the book; indeed I devoured it’ Athene Donald, Guardian
‘A glorious series of essays on the art of life writing and a worthy successor to his earlier volumes on the craft, Footsteps and Sidetracks … heaven for Holmes fans … the best account imaginable for the richness of his form’ Observer
‘This collection of 15 years of high-profile lectures and anthology contributions offers us a lorryload of arresting subjects … ‘This Long Pursuit’ is distinguished by a geniality of tone … Holmes's) eye for detail is as sharp as ever’ The Times
‘Holmes writes beautifully of the perils of memory and forgetting … perhaps the essay that best sums up Holmes's endeavour is his superb explosion of the accepted account of Coleridge's 1808 lectures to the Royal Institution … a masterly performance by … the greatest literary biographer of his generation’ The Oldie —
If these compelling reviews have swayed you, you can buy the book here.