Is Simon Jenkins trying to turn the clock back? Lytton Strachey’s Eminent Victorians (1918) established a new form of biography which, with wit, irreverence, lampoon, irony and caricature, established new, deeper truths about his subjects apart from mere facts. Strachey borrowed from history, fiction, drama, of truth of fact and truth of fiction. He showed that outrage and subtlety are compatible.
Strachey himself writes in his preface to Eminent Victorians: “The explorer of the past, if he is wise, will adopt a subtler strategy: he will shoot a sudden, revealing searchlight into obscure recesses, hitherto undivined. He will row out over that great ocean of material and lower down into it a little bucket, which will bring up to the light of day some characteristic specimen from those depths.” This is what Adam McKay