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The Life Of Robert Burns (Canongate Classics) Paperback – 1 Jan 2001
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From the Back Cover
Carswell deliberately shakes the image of Burns as a romantic hero--exposing the sexual misdemeanours, drinking bouts and waywardness that other, more reverential, biographies choose to overlook.
About the Author
Catherine Carswell (1879-1946) was born in Glasgow, one of the four children of George and Mary Anne Macfarlane. On leaving school she attended courses in English Literature at Glasgow University but could not, in those days, be admitted for a degree. In 1904, after a brief engagement, she married Herbert Jackson. When in 1905, she told him of her pregnancy, he tried to kill her. Declared insane, he spent the rest of his life in a mental hospital. Catherine returned to Glasgow where her daughter was born, and worked, first in Glasgow and then in London as dramatic and literary critic for the Glasgow Herald. In 1907 she began legal proceedings for the anulment of her marriage. She won the case, making legal history.
Her friendship with D.H. Lawrence was kindled by her favourable review of The White Peacock (1911). They met in 1914 and their relationship lasted until Lawrence's death in. In 1915 she married Donald Carswell, with whom she had one son. In the same year, she lost her job at the Glasgow Herald for praising The Rainbow. Soon after that the Carswells moved briefly from London to Bournemouth. in 1916 she and Lawrence exchanged manuscripts of Open the Door! and Women in Love. Her novel was completed in 1918 and won the Melrose Prize on publication in 1920. Her other novel, The Camomile, was published two years later, after which she devoted herself to The Life of Robert Burns, which made her name in 1930. This was quickly followed by a biography of Lawrence, The Savage Pilgrimage (1932).
After her husband's death during the black-out in 1940, Catherine Carswell lived alone in London. She worked with John Buchan's widow on his memorial anthology, The Clearing House (1946) and on her own autobiography, which was published, incomplete, as Lying Awake in 1950. Carswell died in Oxford at the age of 66.
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Top Customer Reviews
Undoubtedly the model for this portrait was Carswell's friend DH Lawrence, who had a similar life in certain ways (although in his case, it was more that he couldn't find anyone he didn't think himself superior to). In reference to Burns, it is a highly conjectural one; Carswell uses a novelist's freedom in relating thoughts, feelings and sometimes even events with complete confidence, even where there can be no way of knowing for sure what they were. She's like a child skipping along a line of posts in a playground. Her footing is firm at the most important points, and the direction of travel is clear; but though she can guess more or less confidently at the nature of the ground between, she doesn't know for sure.
This easy objectification of her writer's instincts is one mark of Lawrence's tutelage; a preoccupation with the sensual - the whole physical side of life - is another. Her comparative frankness about sex would be unusual in a biographer now and must have been deeply shocking when this was first published, especially since it extends as much to her women 'characters' as the male lead.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A perfect addition to my collection of Robert Burns books. I have no hesitation in recommending this supplier and would use again.Published on 10 Jun. 2013 by Stewart Donaldson