Leigh Hunt’s three-volume The Autobiography of Leigh Hunt has remained the single most important source of information on both the facts of his life and those personal attributes that influenced his writings. There is, in fact, comparatively little in The Autobiography of Leigh Hunt dealing exclusively with Hunt; it is more a series of recollections and examinations of his many literary friends. This fact is of some importance in understanding Hunt the man, for it reflects a total lack of selfishness and a genuine sympathetic concern for the many fortunate people who won his friendship. These friendships were treasured by Hunt, and in the accounts of his youthful infatuations is reflected the simple kindheartedness and romantic idealism that were noted by his contemporaries and by later critics. The Autobiography of Leigh Hunt does not follow a strict chronology but is rather a series of units. For example, he describes his parents’ lives until their deaths before he discusses his own early years. In fact, Hunt’s father lived to see his son a successful editor. This organizational method may well be a result of Hunt’s reliance on personal taste. His taste of course was selective; he extracted from his experience what he considered excellent and showed little regard for the organizational coherence of the whole. His literary criticism, indeed even his poetry, displays the same fondness for selection found in his autobiography....
(The entire section is 1775 words.)
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