Quotation by Lewis Mumford

There is no necessary connection between the important events of a life and the records of it that have been preserved in memory, in documents, in memorials, or in living testimony. The biographer must compose his life of what he has, just as the archeologist must restore his temple or his statue with such fragments as thieving time and careless men have left him; but fate often ironically leaves him a well-preserved leg and a dismembered torso, while the head, which would supply the main clue to the body, is missing. Hence, in addition to the purposive selection exercised by the subject himself and by the biographer in making use of such materials as are left, there exists a purely external selection dominated by chance, which cuts across the evidence in an arbitrary fashion. To correct for such distortions the biographer must be an anatomist of character: he must be able to restore the missing nose in plaster, even if he does not find the original marble.
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