Robert Lowell, Setting the River on Fire

Robert Lowell, Setting the River on Fire

A Study of Genius, Mania, and Character

Book - 2017
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"The best-selling author of An Unquiet Mind now gives us a groundbreaking life of one of the major American poets of the twentieth century that is at the same time a fascinating study of the relationship between manic-depressive (bipolar) illness, creative genius, and character. In his Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry, Robert Lowell (1917-1977) put his manic-depressive illness into the public domain. Now Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison brings her expertise to bear on his story, illuminating the relationship between bipolar illness and creativity, and examining how Lowell's illness and the treatment he received came to bear on his work. His New England roots, early breakdowns, marriages to three eminent writers, friendships with other poets, vivid presence as a teacher and writer refusing to give up in the face of mental illness--Jamison gives us Lowell's life through a lens that focuses our understanding of the poet's intense discipline, courage, and commitment to his art. Jamison had unprecedented access to Lowell's medical records, as well as to previously unpublished drafts and fragments of poems, and was the first biographer to speak to his daughter. With this new material and a psychologist's deep insight, Jamison delivers a bold, sympathetic account of a poet who was--both despite and because of mental illness--a passionate, original observer of the human condition"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2017
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780307700278
0307700275
Branch Call Number: 92 L9519j 2017
Characteristics: xix, 532 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: Traill, Thomas A. - Author

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lukasevansherman
Jun 11, 2018

Moving and insightful book about Robert Lowell, one of the major American poets of the 20th century. What I like about this is that it's not a traditional biography. Jamison is a professor of psychiatry, so she looks at his work and life through the prism of Lowell's mental illness; he was hospitalized dozens of time in his life. I wasn't all the familiar with Lowell's life, but I still found it a fascinating read that also challenges many stereotypes about male genius and mad artists.

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