Through an analysis of Zdeněk Doskočil’s monograph on a key period in Ladislav Novomeský’s life and work, this essay attempts to examine the possibilities and limits of biography as a historiographical genre. The author relies on attempts to reformulate biography as a distinct but traditionally convention-bound genre of “writing about the past” so as to bring it closer to what is known as contextual biography (Hans Renders, Binne de Haan). The text places Doskočil’s book among a number of other monographs published in recent years on luminaries of the Czech and Slovak Marxist intellectual elite (e.g. Zdeněk Nejedlý and Gustáv Husák). It focuses on the dilemmas faced by the author, who attempts to follow a different emplotment than the traditional, chronological and rather holistic one.