Edwin Arlington Robinson: A Poet's Lifeby Scott Donaldson
At the time of his death in 1935, Edwin Arlington Robinson was regarded as the leading American poet-the equal of Frost and Stevens. In this biography, Scott Donaldson tells the intriguing story of this poet's life, based in large part on a previously unavailable trove of more than 3,000 personal letters, and recounts his profoundly important role in the
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At the time of his death in 1935, Edwin Arlington Robinson was regarded as the leading American poet-the equal of Frost and Stevens. In this biography, Scott Donaldson tells the intriguing story of this poet's life, based in large part on a previously unavailable trove of more than 3,000 personal letters, and recounts his profoundly important role in the development of modern American literature.
Born in 1869, the youngest son of a well-to-do family in Gardiner, Maine, Robinson had two brothers: Dean, a doctor who became a drug addict, and Herman, an alcoholic who squandered the family fortune. Robinson never married, but he fell in love as many as three times, most lastingly with the woman who would become his brother Herman's wife. Despite his shyness, Robinson made many close friends, and he repeatedly went out of his way to give them his support and encouragement.
Still, it was always poetry that drove him. He regarded writing poems as nothing less than his calling-what he had been put on earth to do. Struggling through long years of poverty and neglect, he achieved a voice and a subject matter all his own. He was the first to write about ordinary people and events-an honest butcher consumed by grief, a miser with "eyes like little dollars in the dark," ancient clerks in a dry goods store measuring out their days like bolts of cloth. In simple yet powerful rhetoric, he explored the interior worlds of the people around him.
Robinson was a major poet and a pivotal figure in the course of modern American literature, yet over the years his reputation has declined. With his biography, Donaldson returns this remarkable talent to the pantheon of great American poets and sheds new light on his enduring legacy.
A richly documented book that eclipses earlier biographies.
William H. Pritchard
X. J. Kennedy
- Columbia University Press
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- Barnes & Noble
- NOOK Book
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- 9 MB
What People are saying about this
For too long Edwin Arlington Robinson has been consigned to the ranks of peripheral poets. Scott Donaldsona gifted biographerhas brought this remarkable man and his poetry vividly to life. This is a welcome book and one that should go a long way toward reestablishing Robinson as a significant voice in American literature.
Jay Parini, author of Robert Frost: A Life
Edwin Arlington Robinson: A Poet's Life brings forth new material hitherto unavailable to biographers. The result is a remarkably rounded portrait of a man who kept his public persona deliberately flat.
Barry Goldensohn, Skidmore College
No poet ever understood loneliness or separateness better than Robinson or knew the self-consuming furnace that the brain can become in isolation.
Robinson's theme was unhappiness itself, but his skill was as happy as it was playful.... His life was a revel in the felicities of language.
The best of Edwin Arlington Robinson's poetry rings with a lyrical and emotional purity and singularity that should assure his place as one of the treasured poets of his generation. His reputation has suffered neglect in recent decades, but a new, clear, meticulous, and perceptive biography incorporating much previously unavailable material is certainly to be welcomed, and Scott Donaldson's Edwin Arlington Robinson: A Poet's Life should help to revive appreciation for this solitary figure and the unique resonance of his work.
W. S. Merwin, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry
I'm very glad that Scott Donaldson has given us the first Edwin Arlington Robinson biography in forty years; it will send some readers back to enjoy again his humanity and formal ease, and get some others to meet him for the first time.
Richard Wilbur, former Poet Laureate of the United States
Meet the Author
Scott Donaldson is one of the nation's leading literary biographers. He has written and edited a number of books, including Poet in America: Winfield Townley Scott; By Force of Will: The Life and Art of Ernest Hemingway; Fool for Love: F. Scott Fitzgerald; John Cheever: A Biography; Archibald MacLeish: An American Life; and Hemingway vs. Fitzgerald.
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