The Bard: Robert Burns, A Biography

Overview

"Burns was a poetic genius and his life was the stuff of legend. Compelling and timely, this book directs attention to a major poet who has been scandalously neglected in scholarship outside of Scotland for many years."—James Chandler, University of Chicago

"There have been scores if not hundreds of biographies of Burns. In an impressive feat, Crawford has written one that really justifies the claim of providing a new, original account—indeed, I would say it is as close to being...

See more details below
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (10) from $1.99   
  • New (4) from $33.83   
  • Used (6) from $1.99   
Sending request ...

Overview

"Burns was a poetic genius and his life was the stuff of legend. Compelling and timely, this book directs attention to a major poet who has been scandalously neglected in scholarship outside of Scotland for many years."—James Chandler, University of Chicago

"There have been scores if not hundreds of biographies of Burns. In an impressive feat, Crawford has written one that really justifies the claim of providing a new, original account—indeed, I would say it is as close to being definitive as we are likely to get."—Ian Duncan, University of California, Berkeley

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

The Independent
Crawford's biography benefits from his activities as distinguished scholar and poet. Like a good history teacher, he is quick to make simple but illuminating connections between the past and the present, and he employs modern concepts with tact and restraint. . . . The ideal biographer must admire his subject but remain clear-eyed. Crawford is both partisan and sensible.
— Carol Rumens
The Guardian
Although these things are important, and certainly need to be written about, they can deflect our attention from what is less sensational and fundamentally more appealing about Burns: the unquenchable humanity of his poetry and songs. By combining a reliable account of the former with a rich appreciation of the latter, Robert Crawford has done him a great service. . . . Crawford has righted old wrongs—scraping layers of yellowing varnish from received impressions of Burns—and he has also made some vital new connections between Burns's independent-minded politics and the nationalism of contemporary Scotland.
— Andrew Motion
The Times
Crawford has produced an act of homage as well as a fine biography; his appreciation of the poet's inner springs brings Bruns's outer forms blazing back to life.
— Frances Wilson
The Globe and Mail
[Burns] is not easily captured, but Robert Crawford does it with an assurance and a fluency that belies the breadth of scholarship and the depth of research he has put into what he modestly describes as 'a biography.' What he has produced is much more than that. In The Bard, he manages to combine narrative richness with a close reading of the work that sets it in both its literary and historical context. . . . In lengthy, deeply rewarding chapters, Crawford brings a poet's ear and a novelist's technique to bear to bring a lost world to life. Thoughtful but tough analysis dispels myths and sets us as near to a truthful account of Burns we are likely to get. It is an essential work.
— John McTernan
The Chronicle Review
Crawford's biography is a generous and timely work—it isn't hero worship, and it is forthright (and amusing) about the hustling self-promotion of the man who crowned himself 'King of the Bards.' . . . In short, it's a terrific tribute to the short life of an unlikely celebrity-poet.
— Eric Banks
The Spectator
Robert Crawford, a fine poet himself, writes with subtlety and insight, drawing out the contradictions between Burns' defiantly republican sympathies and his need for aristocratic and government patronage.
— Andro Linklater
The Telegraph
[A] triumph—a highly readable, at times very moving account of the life of the poet, backed at every stage by scholarship that is worn in such a way as not to deter the general reader. This is a fine biography, and it is difficult to imagine its being surpassed for a very long time.
— Alexander McCall Smith
The Weekly Standard
Biographies of Burns are as plentiful as hangovers after Burns Suppers, and some of them are equally unrewarding. But this one is genuinely useful. Evenhanded and earnest, it isn't the raciest version of Burns's high-octane career: Those who want a simplified story can look elsewhere. But The Bard, while approachable and concise, sets a new standard for scholarly readings of Burns's life. . . . [T]his biography is enlightening and entertaining, a good read in a gray month.
— Sara Lodge
Newark Star-Ledger
Robert Crawford, a professor at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, knows more about Robert Burns than Burns did—and is willing to share enough in 307 pages to give you a real insight into the life and times of Scotland's national poet.
— Brendan T. Byrne
Scotia

I both admired and enjoyed this thoughtfully sustained and planned biography. It has its subject steadily in view, is the product of authentic independent research, and has both shrewdness, readability, and amplitude. It is well-edited, pleasingly bound and attractively presented. It must surely be now the first choice for anyone wishing to encounter Burns's life and poetry together.
— Bernard Beatty

Scotia: Interdisciplinary Journal of Scottish Studies
I both admired and enjoyed this thoughtfully sustained and planned biography. It has its subject steadily in view, is the product of authentic independent research, and has both shrewdness, readability, and amplitude. It is well-edited, pleasingly bound and attractively presented. It must surely be now the first choice for anyone wishing to encounter Burns's life and poetry together.
— Bernard Beatty
New York Review of Books - John Carey
[A] searching and sensitive biography. . . . Crawford is an academic himself, a professor at the University of St. Andrews, as well as a poet, and perhaps that is why disparagement of Burns by academics worries him so much. For Crawford, however, Burns's gradual disappearance from 'the research culture of modern academia' is a serious concern, and this biography seeks to show why his poetry is worth literary examination, as well as how it is illuminated by his life. . . . [A]nd it is in the tonal analysis of Burns's poems that Crawford is at his best in this outstanding book.
Booklist - Ray Olson
The first twenty-first-century biography of Scotland's national poet publishes on January 25, 2009, the two-hundred-fiftieth anniversary of his birth, and it is an exceptional book.
The Independent - Lesley McDowell
The joy of Robert Crawford's biography of Burns is that it restores much-needed complexity to the image of the Ayrshire balladeer poet whose pretty face adorns everything from tea-towels to biscuit tins in his home country.
The Guardian - Andrew Motion
Although these things are important, and certainly need to be written about, they can deflect our attention from what is less sensational and fundamentally more appealing about Burns: the unquenchable humanity of his poetry and songs. By combining a reliable account of the former with a rich appreciation of the latter, Robert Crawford has done him a great service. . . . Crawford has righted old wrongs—scraping layers of yellowing varnish from received impressions of Burns—and he has also made some vital new connections between Burns's independent-minded politics and the nationalism of contemporary Scotland.
The Independent - Carol Rumens
Crawford's biography benefits from his activities as distinguished scholar and poet. Like a good history teacher, he is quick to make simple but illuminating connections between the past and the present, and he employs modern concepts with tact and restraint. . . . The ideal biographer must admire his subject but remain clear-eyed. Crawford is both partisan and sensible.
The Times - Frances Wilson
Crawford has produced an act of homage as well as a fine biography; his appreciation of the poet's inner springs brings Bruns's outer forms blazing back to life.
The Globe and Mail - John McTernan
[Burns] is not easily captured, but Robert Crawford does it with an assurance and a fluency that belies the breadth of scholarship and the depth of research he has put into what he modestly describes as 'a biography.' What he has produced is much more than that. In The Bard, he manages to combine narrative richness with a close reading of the work that sets it in both its literary and historical context. . . . In lengthy, deeply rewarding chapters, Crawford brings a poet's ear and a novelist's technique to bear to bring a lost world to life. Thoughtful but tough analysis dispels myths and sets us as near to a truthful account of Burns we are likely to get. It is an essential work.
The Chronicle Review - Eric Banks
Crawford's biography is a generous and timely work—it isn't hero worship, and it is forthright (and amusing) about the hustling self-promotion of the man who crowned himself 'King of the Bards.' . . . In short, it's a terrific tribute to the short life of an unlikely celebrity-poet.
Choice - E.M. Slotkin
This biography of Burns has the distinct advantage of focusing on the poetry. Crawford makes a determined effort to situate the poetry within the contexts of both Burns's life and the Scottish history within which it was written. Himself a poet, the author appreciates Burns's achievement in verse; indeed without this sensitivity the biography would be little more than a collection of many sordid details.
The Spectator - Andro Linklater
Robert Crawford, a fine poet himself, writes with subtlety and insight, drawing out the contradictions between Burns' defiantly republican sympathies and his need for aristocratic and government patronage.
The Telegraph - Alexander McCall Smith
[A] triumph—a highly readable, at times very moving account of the life of the poet, backed at every stage by scholarship that is worn in such a way as not to deter the general reader. This is a fine biography, and it is difficult to imagine its being surpassed for a very long time.
The Weekly Standard - Sara Lodge
Biographies of Burns are as plentiful as hangovers after Burns Suppers, and some of them are equally unrewarding. But this one is genuinely useful. Evenhanded and earnest, it isn't the raciest version of Burns's high-octane career: Those who want a simplified story can look elsewhere. But The Bard, while approachable and concise, sets a new standard for scholarly readings of Burns's life. . . . [T]his biography is enlightening and entertaining, a good read in a gray month.
Newark Star-Ledger - Brendan T. Byrne
Robert Crawford, a professor at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, knows more about Robert Burns than Burns did—and is willing to share enough in 307 pages to give you a real insight into the life and times of Scotland's national poet.
Dallas Morning News - Bryan Woolley
Because Crawford is such an incandescent and engaging writer, his 400-page book, despite its 65-page chapters and sometimes page-long paragraphs, is something of a page-turner. Crawford's subject is owed credit for that, too. It's difficult to imagine a livelier, funnier, more passionate, more daring, more gifted life to study than that of Robert Burns. The perfect biographer has combined with the perfect subject here.
Eighteenth-Century Scotland - Corey E. Andrews
Crawford's The Bard is a welcome addition to Burns scholarship, offering a useful and very readable introduction to the life of Burns.
Scotia - Bernard Beatty
I both admired and enjoyed this thoughtfully sustained and planned biography. It has its subject steadily in view, is the product of authentic independent research, and has both shrewdness, readability, and amplitude. It is well-edited, pleasingly bound and attractively presented. It must surely be now the first choice for anyone wishing to encounter Burns's life and poetry together.
Choice - E. M. Slotkin
This biography of Burns has the distinct advantage of focusing on the poetry. Crawford makes a determined effort to situate the poetry within the contexts of both Burns's life and the Scottish history within which it was written. Himself a poet, the author appreciates Burns's achievement in verse; indeed without this sensitivity the biography would be little more than a collection of many sordid details.
From the Publisher
Winner of the Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year

Shortlisted for the 2010 Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book Award in Nonfiction, Scottish Arts Council

"Crawford's Burns, merrily mixing high and low culture, seems eerily contemporary. He shares with great hip-hop artists a genius for catchy, sexy, and memorable rhymes gloriously liberated from the hegemony of standard English."—New Yorker

"[A] searching and sensitive biography. . . . Crawford is an academic himself, a professor at the University of St. Andrews, as well as a poet, and perhaps that is why disparagement of Burns by academics worries him so much. For Crawford, however, Burns's gradual disappearance from 'the research culture of modern academia' is a serious concern, and this biography seeks to show why his poetry is worth literary examination, as well as how it is illuminated by his life. . . . [A]nd it is in the tonal analysis of Burns's poems that Crawford is at his best in this outstanding book."—John Carey, New York Review of Books

"The first twenty-first-century biography of Scotland's national poet publishes on January 25, 2009, the two-hundred-fiftieth anniversary of his birth, and it is an exceptional book."—Ray Olson, Booklist (Starred review)

"The joy of Robert Crawford's biography of Burns is that it restores much-needed complexity to the image of the Ayrshire balladeer poet whose pretty face adorns everything from tea-towels to biscuit tins in his home country."—Lesley McDowell, The Independent (UK)

"Although these things are important, and certainly need to be written about, they can deflect our attention from what is less sensational and fundamentally more appealing about Burns: the unquenchable humanity of his poetry and songs. By combining a reliable account of the former with a rich appreciation of the latter, Robert Crawford has done him a great service. . . . Crawford has righted old wrongs—scraping layers of yellowing varnish from received impressions of Burns—and he has also made some vital new connections between Burns's independent-minded politics and the nationalism of contemporary Scotland."—Andrew Motion, The Guardian (UK)

"Crawford's biography benefits from his activities as distinguished scholar and poet. Like a good history teacher, he is quick to make simple but illuminating connections between the past and the present, and he employs modern concepts with tact and restraint. . . . The ideal biographer must admire his subject but remain clear-eyed. Crawford is both partisan and sensible."—Carol Rumens, The Independent (UK)

"Crawford has produced an act of homage as well as a fine biography; his appreciation of the poet's inner springs brings Bruns's outer forms blazing back to life."—Frances Wilson, The Times (UK)

"[Burns] is not easily captured, but Robert Crawford does it with an assurance and a fluency that belies the breadth of scholarship and the depth of research he has put into what he modestly describes as 'a biography.' What he has produced is much more than that. In The Bard, he manages to combine narrative richness with a close reading of the work that sets it in both its literary and historical context. . . . In lengthy, deeply rewarding chapters, Crawford brings a poet's ear and a novelist's technique to bear to bring a lost world to life. Thoughtful but tough analysis dispels myths and sets us as near to a truthful account of Burns we are likely to get. It is an essential work."—John McTernan, The Globe and Mail (Canada)

"Crawford's biography is a generous and timely work—it isn't hero worship, and it is forthright (and amusing) about the hustling self-promotion of the man who crowned himself 'King of the Bards.' . . . In short, it's a terrific tribute to the short life of an unlikely celebrity-poet."—Eric Banks, The Chronicle Review
"This biography of Burns has the distinct advantage of focusing on the poetry. Crawford makes a determined effort to situate the poetry within the contexts of both Burns's life and the Scottish history within which it was written. Himself a poet, the author appreciates Burns's achievement in verse; indeed without this sensitivity the biography would be little more than a collection of many sordid details."—E. M. Slotkin, Choice

"Robert Crawford, a fine poet himself, writes with subtlety and insight, drawing out the contradictions between Burns' defiantly republican sympathies and his need for aristocratic and government patronage."—Andro Linklater, The Spectator (UK)

"[A] triumph—a highly readable, at times very moving account of the life of the poet, backed at every stage by scholarship that is worn in such a way as not to deter the general reader. This is a fine biography, and it is difficult to imagine its being surpassed for a very long time."—Alexander McCall Smith, The Telegraph (UK)

"Biographies of Burns are as plentiful as hangovers after Burns Suppers, and some of them are equally unrewarding. But this one is genuinely useful. Evenhanded and earnest, it isn't the raciest version of Burns's high-octane career: Those who want a simplified story can look elsewhere. But The Bard, while approachable and concise, sets a new standard for scholarly readings of Burns's life. . . . [T]his biography is enlightening and entertaining, a good read in a gray month."—Sara Lodge, The Weekly Standard

"Robert Crawford, a professor at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, knows more about Robert Burns than Burns did—and is willing to share enough in 307 pages to give you a real insight into the life and times of Scotland's national poet."—Brendan T. Byrne, Newark Star-Ledger

"Because Crawford is such an incandescent and engaging writer, his 400-page book, despite its 65-page chapters and sometimes page-long paragraphs, is something of a page-turner. Crawford's subject is owed credit for that, too. It's difficult to imagine a livelier, funnier, more passionate, more daring, more gifted life to study than that of Robert Burns. The perfect biographer has combined with the perfect subject here."—Bryan Woolley, Dallas Morning News

"Crawford's The Bard is a welcome addition to Burns scholarship, offering a useful and very readable introduction to the life of Burns."—Corey E. Andrews, Eighteenth-Century Scotland

"I both admired and enjoyed this thoughtfully sustained and planned biography. It has its subject steadily in view, is the product of authentic independent research, and has both shrewdness, readability, and amplitude. It is well-edited, pleasingly bound and attractively presented. It must surely be now the first choice for anyone wishing to encounter Burns's life and poetry together."—Bernard Beatty, Scotia

New Yorker
Crawford's Burns, merrily mixing high and low culture, seems eerily contemporary. He shares with great hip-hop artists a genius for catchy, sexy, and memorable rhymes gloriously liberated from the hegemony of standard English.
New York Review of Books
[A] searching and sensitive biography. . . . Crawford is an academic himself, a professor at the University of St. Andrews, as well as a poet, and perhaps that is why disparagement of Burns by academics worries him so much. For Crawford, however, Burns's gradual disappearance from 'the research culture of modern academia' is a serious concern, and this biography seeks to show why his poetry is worth literary examination, as well as how it is illuminated by his life. . . . [A]nd it is in the tonal analysis of Burns's poems that Crawford is at his best in this outstanding book.
— John Carey
Booklist
The first twenty-first-century biography of Scotland's national poet publishes on January 25, 2009, the two-hundred-fiftieth anniversary of his birth, and it is an exceptional book.
— Ray Olson
Choice
This biography of Burns has the distinct advantage of focusing on the poetry. Crawford makes a determined effort to situate the poetry within the contexts of both Burns's life and the Scottish history within which it was written. Himself a poet, the author appreciates Burns's achievement in verse; indeed without this sensitivity the biography would be little more than a collection of many sordid details.
— E. M. Slotkin
Dallas Morning News
Because Crawford is such an incandescent and engaging writer, his 400-page book, despite its 65-page chapters and sometimes page-long paragraphs, is something of a page-turner. Crawford's subject is owed credit for that, too. It's difficult to imagine a livelier, funnier, more passionate, more daring, more gifted life to study than that of Robert Burns. The perfect biographer has combined with the perfect subject here.
— Bryan Woolley
Eighteenth-Century Scotland
Crawford's The Bard is a welcome addition to Burns scholarship, offering a useful and very readable introduction to the life of Burns.
— Corey E. Andrews
The Guardian
Although these things are important, and certainly need to be written about, they can deflect our attention from what is less sensational and fundamentally more appealing about Burns: the unquenchable humanity of his poetry and songs. By combining a reliable account of the former with a rich appreciation of the latter, Robert Crawford has done him a great service. . . . Crawford has righted old wrongs—scraping layers of yellowing varnish from received impressions of Burns—and he has also made some vital new connections between Burns's independent-minded politics and the nationalism of contemporary Scotland.
— Andrew Motion
The Globe and Mail
[Burns] is not easily captured, but Robert Crawford does it with an assurance and a fluency that belies the breadth of scholarship and the depth of research he has put into what he modestly describes as 'a biography.' What he has produced is much more than that. In The Bard, he manages to combine narrative richness with a close reading of the work that sets it in both its literary and historical context. . . . In lengthy, deeply rewarding chapters, Crawford brings a poet's ear and a novelist's technique to bear to bring a lost world to life. Thoughtful but tough analysis dispels myths and sets us as near to a truthful account of Burns we are likely to get. It is an essential work.
— John McTernan
The Weekly Standard
Biographies of Burns are as plentiful as hangovers after Burns Suppers, and some of them are equally unrewarding. But this one is genuinely useful. Evenhanded and earnest, it isn't the raciest version of Burns's high-octane career: Those who want a simplified story can look elsewhere. But The Bard, while approachable and concise, sets a new standard for scholarly readings of Burns's life. . . . [T]his biography is enlightening and entertaining, a good read in a gray month.
— Sara Lodge
Eighteenth-Century Scotland
Crawford's The Bard is a welcome addition to Burns scholarship, offering a useful and very readable introduction to the life of Burns.
— Corey E. Andrews
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691141718
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 12/29/2008
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 1,038,843
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author


Robert Crawford is professor of modern Scottish literature at the University of St. Andrews. His many books include "Scotland's Books: The Penguin History of Scottish Literature", as well as the poetry collections "The Tip of My Tongue" and "Full Volume" (both Cape).
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements ix
Reading Burns's Poems 1
Introduction 3
CHAPTER I. First an’ Foremost 15
CHAPTER II. Wits 66
CHAPTER III. Belles 124
CHAPTER IV. Bard 179
CHAPTER V. New World 237
CHAPTER VI. Rhinoceros 291
CHAPTER VII. Staunch Republicans 337
Abbreviations 409
Notes 413
Index 451

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)