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Robert Bly writes that it is clear to men that the images of adult manhood given by popular culture are worn out, that a man can no longer depend on them. Iron John searches for a new vision of what a man is or could be, drawing on psychology, anthropology, mythology, folklore and legend. Robert Bly looks at the importance of the Wild Man (reminiscent of the Wild Woman in Women Who Run With the Wolves), who he compares to a Zen priest, a shaman or a woodman. 'This book needs to be read, I believe, not as a dry work of scholarship to be judged coolly by the mind, but as the work of a poet struggling to convey an emotional experience and lead us to what he has found within himself' Guardian. 'Eclectic and unclassifiable. Iron John is a work whose mentors are the prophetic poets and crazies, William Blake and Walt Whitman' Sydney Morning Herald 'Important, timely, and powerful' New York Times.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780712610704
ISBN-10: 0712610707
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 126mm x 18mm)
Pages: 288
Imprint: Rider & Co
Publisher: Ebury Publishing
Publish Date: 2-Aug-2001
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » American poet and storyteller Bly analyses the development of men and masculinity through the ages; in particular, he explores the symbolism in the Grimm brothers' tale 'Iron John'. 'What I am suggesting is that every modern male has a large primitive being at the bottom of his psyche,' Bly tells us. But this is no textbook; it is the work of a poet well versed in legend and psychology struggling to look into his own soul. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » Strong words about strong and weak men from poet and critic Bly (American Poetry, p. 845, etc.). Using as his metaphorical text the Grimm fairy tale "Iron John," Bly offers "an initiatory path in eight stages" to allow men to recapture a sense of healthy, responsible masculinity. He advocates a male role-model midway between he-man and nerd - a man "in touch with the Wild Man" within. In so doing, Bly condemns the "soft male" so sought after - he says - by many feminists of the 60's and 70's, arguing instead for a return to the "deep masculine." He lauds the "joyful hunting" of young boys, suggests that a loving clout from father to son can be a useful thing, and recommends the psychic process of Katabasis, or descent, as a complement to the desire for ascent and purity. Such thoughts harken back to traditional ideas of father-son relations, and Bly bolsters bis views with references to various ancient mythologies - Celtic, Greek, and older. He also leans heavily on psycho-jargon ("bringing the inner king back to life," etc.) and seems to have little sensitivity to orthodox religious views of the family. Fortunately, his sometimes pop-eyed beliefs rest on a firm foundation of personal experience, both his own ("I count myself among the sons Who have endured years of deprivation. . .") and that of the many men who have attended his workshops on "initiation" into the "male spirit." Tough-minded and bracing, but too workshoppy. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Robert Bly

Robert Bly is a poet, storyteller, translator and worldwide lecturer. His poetry has won many awards, including the National Book Award. This is his first full-length book of prose. He lives with his wife in Madison, Minnesota.

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