From Publishers Weekly
Emphasizing biographies of Jewish luminaries but also including books on Jewish themes, the new Jewish Encounters series aims to satisfy the interest in popular and intelligent books on Jewish subjects. The inaugural book in this commendable venture is a well-executed biography of David, written by Pinsky, former poet laureate of the United States. His poetic language is singularly appropriate for recounting the life of the king who is traditionally accepted as the author of the poetic psalms, some of which are included in the narrative. Pinsky's broad scope is reflected in his references to Greek literature, Shakespeare, Dante, Simone Weil, Talmudists and Robert Frost, among others. He acknowledges his indebtedness to Robert Alter, whose definitive book The David Story
appeared in 1999, but fails to mention recent biographies by Steven McKenzie, Baruch Halpern and Gary Greenberg. His primary sources are the actual biblical texts that recount David's life. Pinsky dispels the conventional image of David as a simple shepherd who slew Goliath and became Israel's greatest king, depicting him realistically with all his failings as an adulterer, assassin and predator. Pinsky also portrays David's stellar achievements, presenting him as a complex character who deserves to be seen in shades of gray. (Sept. 20)
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Renowned poet, critic, translator of Dante's The Inferno
, and former U.S. poet laureate, Pinsky brings his learnedness, literary finesse, and flair for vigorous interpretation to a vibrant and imaginative portrait of David, the biblical warrior, poet, king, and, according to Pinsky, wise guy. In shimmering, metaphor-rich prose, Pinsky considers the peculiarities, paradoxes, and timeless significance of David's often baffling story from his golden days as a handsome upstart confronting King Saul in "gangsterish" encounters to David's wild years as a desert Robin Hood and ascension to the throne. Observing that David's indelible story of daring, desire, power, and survival would fit right into Homer and Shakespeare, Pinsky is especially discerning in his portrayals of strong and strategic women, including Michal, with whom David shared equally intense love and hate, and Bathsheba, mother of Solomon. Witty, frank, skeptical, and clearly moved by mercurial David's chutzpah and losses, Pinsky brings remarkable lucidity, depth, and creativity to his dynamic and poetic reading of a legendary figure who has become emblematic of both destructive and heroic aspects of human nature. Donna SeamanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved