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Heinlein Biographical thread? 
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Heinlein Nexus
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Post Re: Heinlein Biographical thread?
Robert - welcome! It's great to see you here. I'm really looking forward to reading more from you.


Sat Jul 25, 2009 6:28 pm
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Heinlein Nexus

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Post Re: Heinlein Biographical thread?
Well, according to Jim, I've posted 24+ messages, so that should keep you busy for awhile.

I look forward to participating here; now that I'm almost done with the radiation therapy (on low-grade cancer cells in a tumor removed from my right parotid gland), I should be able to start getting back into the groove of things again.

Robert


Sat Jul 25, 2009 7:05 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein Biographical thread?
freesharon wrote:
It's only been in the last few years that I realized I could not trust what Heinlein said about himself in his jacket blurbs and interviews -- the whole bit about the short story contest, etc. What a writer says about who he really is cannot necessarily be considered any more factual than the admitted fiction he writes. I'm not saying I don't see the justifications (finances, privacy, etc.) for this; I'm just saying that it may not be as clearcut as the quote above indicates.


Absolutely true. Point taken. My suggestion to take Heinlein "at his word" I guess was meant more to track down his opinions on things for exemplary purposes. He's a hero of mine; I want to know his views. A good example is his "This I Believe" essay. As for using his own words as a source when tracing biographical data, then we're on shaky ground. People tend to develop "stories" about themselves over the course of their life that are simplifications or improvements on their history.

RobertJames wrote:
The question of how to use a writer's fiction to decide events in their biography is an extremely touchy one, fraught with peril.


I know. I haven't read the Hemingway biography you mentioned, but the most ambitiously brilliant (and controversial) example I've seen is the Paul Shrader film Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters. It's a biography film depicting writer Yukio Mishima on the last day of his life, but interspersed throughout the movie are three enactments of Mishima's fiction-- the theory being that you can derive understanding of a writer by analyzing their work. Great movie, questionable stance though. I'd hate for someone to analyze Heinlein by representing only three of his works.


Sat Jul 25, 2009 8:32 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein Biographical thread?
AlexHergensheimer wrote:
He's a hero of mine; I want to know his views. [...]
I'd hate for someone to analyze Heinlein by representing only three of his works.

We could have some fun arguing which three works best represented the man -- who is a long-time hero (and world-view shaper) of mine, as well. I think we might learn more about each other than him in that process. I'm not sure that wasn't one of his goals as a writer.

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Thu Jul 30, 2009 5:59 am
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Post Re: Heinlein Biographical thread?
Well, for my money, two of those would have to be Tramp Royale and How to Be a Politician....


Thu Jul 30, 2009 6:09 am
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Post Re: Heinlein Biographical thread?
RobertJames wrote:
Well, for my money, two of those would have to be Tramp Royale and How to Be a Politician....


For the third, I nominate the interstitial notes in Expanded Universe.

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Thu Jul 30, 2009 7:03 am
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Post Re: Heinlein Biographical thread?
My favorite is "This I Believe"


Thu Jul 30, 2009 11:58 am
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Heinlein Biographer

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Post Re: Heinlein Biographical thread?
scrocker1946 wrote:
I see a "fugitive" theme that goes well beyond that of "Homo Superioris". Of course, I myself don't believe in Homo Superioris, though such beliefs are rampant among old school SF fandom (e.g. "Fans are Slans"). I think we're all just people, though some of us clearly make a better recipe from our starting ingredients than others. <snip>-Steve

There are many reasons other than Aspergers why a smart and unconventional person might feel out of place in an extremely and aggressively bouregois society and for which the necessity of flight to avoid the iconic rail and tar and feathers might be ever-present in someone who grew up before 1940. The lesson of Plato's cave tells us the impulse to destroy anyone who challenges the social values of "the good and the just" is very ancient, very deeply rooted in human history.

And it seems to me this explains part of the secretiveness about his private life. Another quantum is explained by the fact that he found as a pragmatic that the more he opened up, the more contact flooded in, and it could be overwhelming. It was overwhelming even when he actively discouraged contact, particularly after 1980, when he was less able to cope with it for medical reasons.


Sun Aug 02, 2009 11:16 am
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Heinlein Biographer

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Post Re: Heinlein Biographical thread?
freesharon wrote:
AlexHergensheimer wrote:
He's a hero of mine; I want to know his views. [...]
I'd hate for someone to analyze Heinlein by representing only three of his works.

We could have some fun arguing which three works best represented the man -- who is a long-time hero (and world-view shaper) of mine, as well. I think we might learn more about each other than him in that process. I'm not sure that wasn't one of his goals as a writer.

Well, Heinlein himself left a note in his safety-deposit box sayng that to understand him you have to reallize that three of his books are extended treatments of the same theme: Starship Troopers, Stranger In a Strange Land, and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.


Sun Aug 02, 2009 11:27 am
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Heinlein Biographer

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Post Re: Heinlein Biographical thread?
PeterScott wrote:
My favorite is "This I Believe"

I tend to go along with this one, though I am very leery about the three quoted above. All three of them show signs of being artful masks so it is the "public Robert Heinlein" puppet that is speaking.

So, for that matter, does "This I Believe"; the point is you cannot simply read back to Robert-Heinlein-when-he-is-at-home from any of these public works. He is too much a writer, as he hammers home over and over again in his last five books, and it is the nature of art, as Shklovky keeps reminding us, to distort mere factuality.


Sun Aug 02, 2009 11:31 am
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