Books: A Charmed and Charming Life

E.B. WHITE: A BIOGRAPHY by Scott Elledge; Norton; 400 pages; $22.50

Charmed lives are probably more entertaining to lead than to read about. The ideal subject of a biography is someone who has succeeded at something, but at a pretty stiff price; the story of such a person inspires both envy ("I could not wage war on most of Europe") and the soothing balm of pity ("What a wretched place Elba must have been"). Yet there are some rare souls on whom fortune constantly grins. Their set-backs turn out to be short outs to triumph;...

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