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Beyond the Last Dragon: A Life of Edwin Morgan [Paperback]

James McGonigal
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

17 May 2012
Saltire Society Scottish Research Book of the Year Edwin Morgan s restless imagination moved easily between multiple worlds, voices and identities. His own life story, told here for the first time, also reveals a range of identities - as academic, cultural activist, radical writer, international traveller, gay man and national poet. These identities were sometimes in conflict, or kept hidden and apart. Beyond the Last Dragon, written with his full support, explores hitherto unknown archive resources and creative work. It recounts an amazing and sometimes troubled career, using the poet s own letters, poems and plays from the 1930s to the present day to uncover the origins of his remarkable - and life-long - inventiveness and flair. All this is set against Edwin Morgan s moving struggle against the last dragon of cancer, and to remain creatively alive in the face of suffering in the final years of his life. This prize-winning biography was published just days after the poet s death. James McGonigal now adds a new chapter to describe subsequent events.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Sandstone Press Ltd (17 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905207891
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905207893
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.7 x 4.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 419,294 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Lucid, measured and deeply moving. --Liz Lochhead

About the Author

James McGonigal was until recently a lecturer in English at the University of Glasgow. He was, for many years, a close friend and confident of the poet, as well as being an accomplished poet himself. Edwin Morgan cooperated closely with the author in the preparation of this book.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Valuable and fascinating 14 April 2014
This is a valuable and fascinating book. The author says that it's 'a life, but not the full or only life', because Edwin Morgan lived to be ninety and left an extraordinary body of work. He was one of a brilliant generation of poets, born between 1910 and 1923, of whom only Ruth Bidgood and Dannie Abse are still alive. He left very many very fine poems - 'Stobhill', 'The Mummy', 'The First Men on Mercury' - and was also a distinguished translator and active in public affairs. All this as well as holding down a full-time job and encouraging younger poets to follow their dreams.
I hope that there will indeed be other biographies and studies, but this is a pretty good start.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good value for money 5 Oct 2010
By kate
I bought this book not really knowing what to expect; I'm not a man and I'm not gay. And I am pleased to say I have been enjoying it for a variety of reasons. It's very informative, but in a way that lets you put it down and pick it up at will. It's got lots of photos of Edwin Morgan, his family, friends and associates, and is interestingly set out and written. A lot of thought has gone into it. I bought it for myself, but I would now consider giving it as a gift to someone with an interest in the arts in Scotland, or quite simply an interest in art and literature in the 20th century.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timely, relevant and a joy to read 24 Sep 2010
By Deep Reader VINE VOICE
This biography of the late Edwin Morgan appears just a few short weeks after the poet's death. It is no rush job however, but a work of several years' making by the poet's close friend James McGonigal and with his full cooperation. From Chapter One McGonigal eases the reader gently into one of the most readable and accessable biographies of recent times and, in literary terms, one of the most important. The book brings many aspects of Edwin Morgan's life to light for the first time, not least being the story of his brilliant translation work. From his early years in Rutherglen to his closing years in a care home Edwin Morgan's association with the city of Glasgow was total, and yet his mind and work ranged across Europe, the world, and into both space and time. It also describes his relationship with John Scott and how, in some ways as a consequence, the work was liberated and increased. Honoured in death as he was revered in life, Edwin Morgan's work will be enjoyed, and his influence will continue, for many years. This is the definitive biography.
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