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Robert Lowell: Collected Poems: Edited by Frank Bidart and David Gewanter; Introduction by Frank Bidart Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1200 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition edition (June 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374126178
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374126179
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 2.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,681 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

One can't help, reading through this massive, spellbinding volume, mourning some of what has been lost in American poetry since the Partisan Review crowd was in the ascendant. Lowell's work evinces a contagious earnestness about writing (and rewriting) poetry in a bid for immortality, and an intellectual aggressiveness that is more ethical than metaphysical in nature (like Auden, Lowell's pacifist politics were often transparent). Lowell's embodied, phantasmagoric sense of history and geography highlights his generation's greater chronological proximity to Pound and, before him, Robert Browning. And the imagistic impulse that fueled much mid-century poetry is best typified by Lowell's unerring sense of visual detail: "...octagonal red tiles,/ sweaty with a secret dank, crummy with ant-stale;/ a Rocky Mountain chaise lounge,/ its legs, shellacked saplings." The greatest misfortune of Lowell's critical reception is that he has been lastingly deemed a confessional poet; as Bidart's closing essay notes, not only did Lowell carefully sift through details to preserve those with greatest aesthetic effect, but these details themselves were sometimes stolen from the lives of his peers. Either way, fans will be delighted to see the full version of The Mills of the Kavanaughs (which was cut down to a handful of stanzas for the Selected Poems) as well as the complete Land of Unlikeness, Lowell's debut which he never allowed to be reprinted. Not enough can be said to encourage the reader to absorb, and even attack, this book. From the earliest poems to several late, unfinished works, Lowell's style-"lurid, rapid, garish, grouped/ heightened from life,/ yet paralyzed by fact"-emerges as a sweeping constant, one that revealingly manages to accommodate successive poetic challenges and misreadings.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

In the quarter-century since his death, Lowell's personality and life have overshadowed his poetry. No more. Poets Bidart (who knew Lowell and who expertly dismantles Lowell's reputation as confessional poet) and Gewanter present the first collected volume of this pivotal American voice, a gathering astonishing in its breadth and power. Here are poems in manuscript; works "buried since first publication," including Lowell's first book, Land of Unlikeness (1944); and poems from his 11 ensuing collections, including Life Studies (1959) and The Dolphin (1973). As Bidart observes, Lowell, the recipient of many awards, including two Pulitzers and the National Book Award, labored intently over his work, writing and rewriting, just as he repeatedly plumbed the depths of his blueblood family history and grappled with humanity's perpetual struggles with love and war, inheritance and freedom. Substantial notes, a chronology, glossary, and critical essays make this an essential title. Readers who think they know Lowell's work will discover new facets, and readers just venturing into Lowell's potently rendered and ceaselessly evocative poetic universe will find much to contemplate. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By J. Cohen on December 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I believe that Lowell's work is best viewed through this expansive collection. No single book of his poetry truly captures the full breadth of his literary accomplishments. Of course, if you're only looking for an introduction to his work, Life Studies or For the Union Dead would probably do.

But if you really want to understand the full scope of his talent, then this book is indispensable. I would even go so far as to say that this book will probably cement Lowell's place among America's finest poets in years to come.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Wade on June 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Robert Lowell, one of the latter 20th century's most popular poets, seems to have recently dropped off the radar. This is probably partially due to a critical point of view which has emerged, stating basically that Lowell was a product of his time and has now beem outmoded.
This book should dispel that feeling.
One need only look back on a poem like 'Memories Of West Street And Lepke' from Life Studies to realize that even if, in a hundred years, someone reads this having no idea who Lepke was, the poem could still be enjoyed. It is the poem itself, as Helen Vendler said in a round-about way, which makes the mark.
Despite the hefty price tag on this volume, if you're interested in Lowell, you should own this book. There's things here which simply cannot be found elsewhere: his first, and never again published Land Of Unlikeness, magazine versions of poems later revised in their book forms, poems in manuscript which Lowell never finished. Aside from the poems (which a dogged individual could track down in their book forms with Amazon and Alibris), it's these bonuses which make the volume special, and change that price tag from wow-that's-a-lot to it's-not-such-a-big-deal.
To say that 'if you're a Lowell fan' you should by this book is wrong. I should say, 'if you're a poetry fan'. This was a man who changed poetry forever. And aside from this historical aspect, they are some of the finest poems ever written.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Giordano Bruno on November 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I studied with Robert Lowell at Harvard in 1963 & 1964. I wouldn't presume to review his Collected Poems, only to testify that he was a giant of a human -- witty, sensitive even toward brash young would-be poets, immensely knowledgeable, immensely conscientious. Having known him remains one of the great privileges of my life. Reading his poems is a great privilege for all of us.
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