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So much of my life has been a 'life-in-community' that I thought I would give some of the last words on the subject to that brilliant tactician of the personal & interpersonal, 'Abdu'l-Baha. He survived a most difficult community and advised us on how to live in community in our time. Since our own communities have been, are and will be challenges for us to live in, this analysis of some of 'Abdu'l-Baha's final words before He passed away several years later will be timely. This section of my autobiography, then, will deal with biography, ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s treatment of the subject.
"With penetrating detail, crisp style and emphasis on the compression of facts; with vivid images, usually not more than three or four pages as he discusses the life of each individual,, with a concision of explanation or commentary, with a specific point of view, a style of biography has continued from classical times into the twentieth century. This is biography in miniature. It has a certain bias toward the person over the event, toward art as smallness of scale, toward structuring the confusions of daily life into patterns of continuity and process. There is a broad intent to sustain an interpretation or characterisation with facts teased, coloured, given life by a certain presentation and appraisal. Facts about the past are no more history than butter, eggs, salt and pepper are an omelette. They must be whipped up and played with in a certain fashion." -Ron Price with appreciation to Ira Bruce Nadel, “Biography as Institution,” Biography, Fiction, Fact and Form, St. Martin’s Press, NY, 1984, pp.13-66.
Nadel, whom I quote in the opening passage of this essay, goes on to say that the “recreation of a life in words is one of the most beautiful and difficult tasks a literary artist can perform." Freud said the recreation of a life, the getting at the truth of a life, can not be done; and if someone does do it, as inevitably biographers try, the result is not useful to us. People have been trying to write about the lives of others for millennia and, even if Freud is right, they will probably go on doing it anyway..