Pathography  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The term pathography (from pathos and -graphy) was coined in the 1850s to denote a biography that focuses on faults, unlucky circumstances, failures, and other negative aspects of a person's life.

An article on Shakespeare's sonnets in the Westminster Review of 1857 noted:

"Here it was that Augustus Schlegel erred when he thought that the sonnets would afford material for a fresh biography of Shakspeare. They do not ... They are not so much biography, as, if we may be allowed to coin a word, pathography."

The term was used by Freud's essay "Leonardo da Vinci, A Memory of His Childhood."

"It would be futile to blind ourselves to the fact that readers today find all pathography unpalatable."

In a review of a biography of Jean Stafford Joyce Carol Oates revived the word calling some biographers pathographers saying that

"pathography typically focuses upon a far smaller canvas, sets its standards much lower. Its motifs are dysfunction and disaster, illnesses and pratfalls, failed marriages and failed careers, alcoholism and breakdowns and outrageous conduct."

Oates goes on to call pathography "hagiography's diminished and often prurient twin."

Today, the genre is known as psychobiography.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Pathography" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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