Rise of the 2-inch biography “one of the worst things to happen to literature,” says wine writer

Roger Scruton, New Statesman wine columnist, “savours the last of the summer wine in Argentina” in his latest article, but mostly uses the piece as a platform to denounce Edwin Williamson’s Borges: A Life:

One of the best things to happen to literature in the 20th century was Jorge Luis Borges, who showed us how to intensify both thought and feeling into a little flash of light at the bottom of a wine glass. One of the worst things to happen to literature was the rise of the two-inch-thick biography, in which an interesting person is anatomised, catalogued, replayed and rewound until no interest remains. Alas Borges, who spent his life avoiding life, is now the subject of just such a book. The arrival of a definitive biography always means that other scholars are at work on the same material, determined to eclipse biography A with biography B, while biographers C and D badger literary editors for the chance to write a scathing review. No writer deserves more to remain an enigma than Borges. His matchbox-size fictions, crammed with the densest matter in the universe, provide you with all you need to know about both the man and the country where he was born.


You might want to subscribe to my free Substack newsletter, Ancestor Trouble, if the name makes intuitive sense to you.