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A Strong Song Tows Us: The life of Basil Bunting [Hardcover]

Richard Burton
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
Price: 30.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

26 Sep 2013
Basil Bunting, Britain's greatest modernist poet, led an extraordinary life. He was born in 1900 in a small mining village in Tyneside, where he received a largely Quaker education and, at the age of thirteen, met the love of his life. His young life was hindered after he left school and went straight to prison as a conscientious objector. In the early twenties he worked in Paris as, variously, an artist's model and road mender, before being rescued from another strech in prison by Ezra Pound and Ford Madox Ford. Later the young poet found himself with Pound and W. B. Yeats in Rapallo where he worked on sand boats and wrote the poems that formed the backbone of Pound's influential Active Anthology. Bunting continued to move from place to place for the rest of his life. He and his young family fled their Canary Island home at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, and the breakdown of his marriage saw him take residence on a boat off the south coast of England. During the Second World War he took advantage of his knowledge of classical Persian to work as a translator in Iraq. He later became a spy in the region, culminating in promotion to Vice Consul in Isfahan. His time as The Times Middle East correspondent was cut short when he was thrown out of Iran by Mossadeq in 1953. Briggflatts caught the literary world's attention, but fame brought him no relief from grinding poverty and he died at the age of 85, impoverished but with a lasting poetic legacy. This book tells a captivating tale of action, adventure and lasting friendships. We meet some of the finest writers of the last century, including Yeats, Pound, T. S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky. And at the heart of Bunting's remarkable life lies one of the greatest love stories of the twentieth century.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Infinite Ideas Limited (26 Sep 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 190898418X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908984180
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.8 x 5.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 329,268 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard Burton is a publisher. He was introduced to the poetry of Basil Bunting while completing his PhD on the early poetry of W. B. Yeats. He has for many years lamented the neglect of this important poet and with A strong song tows us aims to revive interest in Bunting's precise, beautiful, expertly crafted poems. He lives in Oxford.

Product Description


A triumph...Richard Burton's thorough and companionable life of Basil Bunting gives us, at long last, the biography Bunting's work merits and his readers deserve. --Don Share, Editor Poetry (Chicago)

This is an extraordinary life, the tale of the century as it goes, and Richard Burton's excellent detective work tells it vividly. --Tom Pickard

A major contribution to modern literary studies. --Matthew Sperling, Literary Review

Must surely stand as the definitive reference work --The Spectator

...thoroughly researched and enthralling. --Mark Ford, The Guardian

This first proper biography … [is] tremendously diligent and feisty and energetic. -- Michael Hofmann, London Review of Books

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a life! 27 Nov 2013
By Henry
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book was recommended to me by a friend who shares my love of modern poetry. To our shame, neither of us had heard of Basil Bunting - I have now, and so has everyone I've spoken to over the last couple of weeks! This rigorous and detailed book paints a beautiful picture of an incredible life. Burton's style is engaging and entertaining and there are illuminating readings of some of Bunting's extraordinary poetry. The book is worth buying for the section on Villon alone, which is superb. Not only has this book introduced me to a poet who is now amongst my favourites, it has rekindled my enthusiasm for listening to poetry closely and allowing it to be reborn with each new reading; Bunting's powerful and indefatigable poetry certainly is. And if you're not that interested in poetry, read this book for its value as work of social history. It is a thorough, full and animated biography of an incredible artist. Bring on the Faber edition of Bunting's Complete Poems!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long overdue 14 Nov 2013
By Mallin
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Bunting is wrongly neglected but this excellent new biography will correct that. I picked it up knowing Briggflats but little else of Bunting's canon and nothing of him. The book sent me back to the poetry equipped to better appreciate place, time, sound and context. And BB himself emerges as a complex, riotous, flinty genius at the heart of modernism. Echoes of Ellman in a biography which is sympathetic and almost discreet in its drawing of the man and rigorous in its reading of his work. Must read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating biography, beautifully written 24 Oct 2013
Bunting was a tremendous character, who was defined as much by his integrity and fierce independence as by his rare poetic talent. Burton's biography is an informative and inspirational tribute. The author writes with restrained affection and great empathy for a poet and thinker who lived his life with few compromises and some verve. Bunting's life story is rich and exhilarating to the extent that it would be unimaginable today. Burton's book is a worthy homage to an exceptional man. Thoroughly recommended to anyone looking for an insightful treatment of a woefully neglected artist.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent critical biography 2 Dec 2013
This book is a fantastic achievement. I thought I knew something about Basil Bunting and his work but this is full of astonishing detail, and intelligent and insightful reading. I'm sure it'll lead to Bunting's work finally getting to a wider readership.
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