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Collected Poems Hardcover – 30 Oct 2000

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 1248 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux Inc (30 Oct. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374126178
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374126179
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 6 x 24.1 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,930,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


The first full collection of Robert LowellAs work introduces readers to the literary genius of the nationAs most important postwar poet, including several never-before-anthologized poems.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
A Masterful Collection (and very well-edited) 7 Dec. 2005
By J. Cohen - Published on
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.
28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
One Of The Publishing Events of 2003, 23 Jun. 2003
By Wade - Published on
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.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
A Tribute, Not a Review 9 Nov. 2006
By Giordano Bruno - Published on
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.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
In His Exasperating Wholeness 7 Mar. 2006
By Billyjack D'Urberville - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The publication of this book was doubtless necessary to begin understanding Lowell correctly. Creator and destroyer, careful wordsmith and subversive deconstructor, encountering just one of his volumes along the strange parabola of his career can be confusing. Lowell always set out to carefully craft each of them, with special attention to the arrangement of his resonant poems and their slow, grand, building cumulative effect. To let you know the game, Lowell presented almost each of his volumes with an evocative frontpiece engraving by Francis Parkman -- the poet thus visually setting forth each of his works, in advance of his death, as another controlled chess move against the great opponent Fame -- the act of a control fanatic if there ever was one.

Yet somewhere in the middle of Lowell's career of creating the little volumes, more violently toward the end of his years as diseases took over, the mad Doppleganger Cal (Lowell's nickname to his insider pals) enters, seeds the serene clouds with fury, and all hell breaks loose. At worst, all is botched: mere beautiful poetic scraps, a line or two amongst literary gossip for insiders, yesterday's obnoxious news. In hindsight Cal indeed did a pretty good job; it is easier to just turn away from the mess. But Lowell is so good at his best, so earnest even in his madness, that we are going to miss something significant about our own history -- the subject which most deeply concerned him -- if we do. And finally, even at his worst, there is always something very endearing about this voice, something very human and honest. Lowell was plagued with true and furious organic disorders which disrupted his personality; his issues were not only self-inflicted. In an earlier age he would not have lived out the length of career he did; in significant ways, then, his voice is a truly new one on the block. Unfortunately for him, the hyped up madness of his period identified with his genuine madness and made a pathetic celebrity of him, which didn't help the brave and fragile personality struggling to make poetic sense of a disturbed time.

Bidart has picked up the pieces and presented Lowell as one, that's all, in all his exasperating wholeness. Now it is easier to see that Lowell and Cal were one, that the lasting work of worth emerges from their furious wrestling. Over time he was many kinds of a writer and a poet, and certainly not all of them will last. He left some absolute foolishness he only got away with because of his name and the looniness at large which seized on him about the same time it seized on Batman and Laugh-In -- junk like the plays in the Old Glory. But when you remember that this was a truly sick man and not just another boozed out writer, you wonder at the absolute clarity of the best work, and the occasional glimmers which never entirely disappeared. Doubtless much later, a generation free of the diseases we still to a degree share with this poet will make the appropriate selection. In the meantime, in a real sense, the record Bidart has compiled shows that the bell tolls for us, too.
17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Lowell All Over Again 10 July 2003
By William Doreski - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is probably the most important collection published in America since Wallace Stevens's 1954 Collected Poems. Although after the publication of Elizabeth Bishop and James Merrill's collected poems Lowell's position no longer seems as pre-eminent as it once did, no poet of his era more intimately captured the uneasy spirit of the Fifties and Sixties. Ginsberg spoke more directly for the disaffected, but Lowell captured the larger unease of America and made it his own, dominating his age as few poets ever have. His voice is unmistakable. His best poems retain their original vitality, and even his weakest poems remain unique in their flaws. Everyone with the slightest interest in poetry will want to own this book.
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