Robert Lowell is one of the most widely recognised and influential poets of the second half of this century. Yet his career is problematical and raises many questions about direction and quality, particularly in light of his repeated reorientation of thematic concern and poetic technique. Many previous studies of the poet have accounted for these radical differences in Lowell's work by examining the poet's private life, but this collection of essays attempts to reassess Lowell's poetry and to restimulate critical thinking about it by focusing on his texts to raise new questions and discussions about the work. The twelve essays in this volume, by many of the most distinguished scholars in the field, offer a chronological review of Robert Lowell's career as a poet. The book includes pieces on major works such as Lord Weary's Castle, Life Studies, For the Union Dead, 'Skunk Hour', Notebook, the sonnets of 1969-73 as well as four essays devoted to Lowell's last complete and often neglected work, Day by Day. Employing a variety of methodologies, the essays arrive at innovative and, often, controversial interpretations of Lowell's poems.
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(228mm x 152mm x 16mm)
Cambridge University Press
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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US Kirkus Review »
According to Steven Axelrod, Lowell's work "centered around his quest for the craft and inspiration to bring even more experience into his art, and his related quest to account for the place art makes in experience." Fair enough. Upon these related sawhorses Axelrod rests his book: chapter by chapter, half biography, half exegesis. Lowell's "Emersonian esthetic" - the individual in the world - and his freely admitted influences are well covered, along with a good many of the sometimes confusing political expeditions that the poet was forever making. But what's ultimately striking is how relatively neutral and unexcited Axelrod stays, vis-a-vis his subject. He does lavish attention on books like Near the Ocean that have been critically downplayed by others, but how he feels about Lowell's art, judgmentally, we're never quite sure. Standard academic references to Sartre, Camus, and Buber's I-Thou theory seem like buffers against definite opinion; rarely does Axelrod work up an intellectual sweat. Lowell tried very hard - the least his critics and explicators might do is approach that level of felt labor. Students, however, will find the book prosaically useful. (Kirkus Reviews)
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