The Other Carl Sandburg

The Other Carl Sandburg

by Philip R. Yannella

A portrait of the radical Sandburg before his days of glory in the pantheon of popular writersSee more details below


A portrait of the radical Sandburg before his days of glory in the pantheon of popular writers

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Using Penelope Niven's standard 1991 biography, Carl Sandburg, and a close reading of a series of political articles Sandburg (1878-1962) wrote expressing socialist beliefs, this book attempts to redeem the reputation of the beloved but bad poet by amplifying a few years of his political life around WWI. Temple University American studies professor Yannella's political analysis of American socialism around WWI is turgid, but detailed. More problematic is his fervent conviction that during his lifetime Carl Sandburg was universally appreciated as a writer. The truth is that for the last 40 years of his life he was often derided by other American poets: e.g., the great poet Elizabeth Bishop writes in her Letters of the comic horror she felt when Sandburg suddenly appeared at a 1940s Washington, D.C., party. Yannella unconvincingly claims that Sandburg was an "extraordinary" and "wonderfully gifted" writer, presenting as good poetry Sandburg's feeble stuff like: "One child coughed his lungs away, two more have adenoids and can neither talk nor run like their mother." In his attempts to rehabilitate Sandburg, he even goes so far as to compare him, unconvincingly, to Walt Whitman, even though the two have little in common beyond the surface similarities of free-verse and populism. Sandburg fans are better off sticking to Niven's biography. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Few American writers are more celebrated than Carl Sandburg. The winner of two Pulitzers (1940, 1951) and friend to Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, and Kennedy, Sandburg enjoyed remarkable literary success. Yet there was another, less well known Sandburg-the contributor to such left-wing publications as the International Socialist Review, the Milwaukee Social-Democratic Herald, and the Chicago Daily News. He befriended such revolutionaries as the IWW's "Big Bill" Haywood and Socialist Eugene Debs. Sandburg also was the target of surveillance by the U.S. Army's Military Intelligence Division in 1918 and 1919. By 1920, Sandburg's literary career took an upward turn and American radicalism of the previous decade was defeated. Yannella (English and American studies, Temple Univ.) makes extensive use of Sandburg's radical writings, the Sandburg Collection at the University of Illinois, and government archives to complement nicely Penelope Niven's Carl Sandburg: A Biography (LJ 7/91). Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.-Boyd Childress, Auburn Univ. Lib., Ala.

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Product Details

University Press of Mississippi
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.32(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.86(d)

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