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Robert Lowell, Setting the River on Fire: A Study of Genius, Mania, and Character

Robert Lowell, Setting the River on Fire: A Study of Genius, Mania, and Character By Kay Redfield Jamison Robert Lowell Setting the River on Fire A Study of Genius Mania and Character In this magisterial study of the relationship between illness and art the best selling author of An Unquiet Mind Kay Redfield Jamison brings an entirely fresh understanding to the work and life of

  • Title: Robert Lowell, Setting the River on Fire: A Study of Genius, Mania, and Character
  • Author: Kay Redfield Jamison
  • ISBN: 9780307700278
  • Page: 389
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Robert Lowell, Setting the River on Fire: A Study of Genius, Mania, and Character By Kay Redfield Jamison In this magisterial study of the relationship between illness and art, the best selling author of An Unquiet Mind, Kay Redfield Jamison, brings an entirely fresh understanding to the work and life of Robert Lowell 1917 1977 , whose intense, complex, and personal verse left a lasting mark on the English language and changed the public discourse about private matters.In hisIn this magisterial study of the relationship between illness and art, the best selling author of An Unquiet Mind, Kay Redfield Jamison, brings an entirely fresh understanding to the work and life of Robert Lowell 1917 1977 , whose intense, complex, and personal verse left a lasting mark on the English language and changed the public discourse about private matters.In his Pulitzer Prize winning poetry, Robert Lowell put his manic depressive illness now known as bipolar disorder into the public domain, creating a language for madness that was new and arresting As Dr Jamison brings her expertise in mood disorders to bear on Lowell s story, she illuminates not only the relationships among mania, depression, and creativity but also the details of Lowell s treatment and how illness and treatment influenced the great work that he produced and often became its subject Lowell s New England roots, early breakdowns, marriages to three eminent writers, friendships with other poets such as Elizabeth Bishop, his many hospitalizations, his vivid presence as both a teacher and a maker of poems Jamison gives us the poet s life through a lens that focuses our understanding of his intense discipline, courage, and commitment to his art Jamison had unprecedented access to Lowell s medical records, as well as to previously unpublished drafts and fragments of poems, and she is the first biographer to have spoken with his dau
    Robert Lowell, Setting the River on Fire: A Study of Genius, Mania, and Character By Kay Redfield Jamison

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    One thought on “Robert Lowell, Setting the River on Fire: A Study of Genius, Mania, and Character

    1. Jeffrey Hatcher on said:

      The public, the student, and even health care practitioners need biographical exposure to people with mental illnesses The only way to really grasp the nature and diversity of mental illness is via empathy Brains have no moving parts and x rays, MRI s and autopsies come up decidedly short for imparting understanding More importantly, mental illnesses frequently need an intimate, real world perspective to be best understood Kay Redfield Jamison helps fill this gap with a study of Robert Lowell.W [...]

    2. Julie Ehlers on said:

      Ugh, the writing is just deadly I ve been constantly looking for other things to do so I don t have to pick this up That means it s time to move on.

    3. Jenna on said:

      My review of this book is now up at Literary Matters literarymatters 10 1 aAnd here are a few Lowell quotes from the book that I enjoyed and jotted down but was unable to work into the review, to tantalize you further My disease, alas, gives one a headless heart Such a narrow fierceness, so many barbed quills hung with bits of skin Why don t they ever say what I d like them to say That I m heartbreaking To live a life is not to cross a field We cannot cross the field, only walk it THE IMMORTAL I [...]

    4. Jennifer on said:

      My only complaint is that it got a little long and tedious, but this is a brilliant portrait of a complicated, talented man Jamison s prose is gorgeous I listened to the audio book and at times couldn t tell if she was quoting Lowell s poetry or writing her own descriptions It was often the latter.

    5. Beverly Hollandbeck on said:

      I once had a college professor for a poetry class who believed that the explication of a poem should not involve the poet s life at all She believed that when a poet wrote, he she took on a persona that was not necessarily the poet This book about the relationship between Robert Lowell s poetry and his bipolar disease blows up that theory Lowell is his poetry It s as much Robert Lowell as his nose So Dr Hunt, you need to go back and rethink that grade you gave me for my Sylvia Plath composition [...]

    6. Owlseyes on said:

      I have a nine months daughter,young enough to be my granddaughterke the sun she rises in her flame flamingo infants wear What can the dove of Jesus giveYou now but wisdom, exile Stand and live,The dove has brought an olive branch to eat When the Lord God formed man from the sea s slimeAnd breathed into his face the breath of life,And blue lung d combers lumbered to the kill.The Lord survives the rainbow of His will THE ILLNESS AND INSIGHT OF ROBERT LOWELLA new book is the first to bring clinical [...]

    7. Lynda Archer on said:

      Robert Lowell was a Pulitzer prize winning poet, extremely bright and he suffered from bipolar illness manic depression Jamison does an amazing job of taking us inside the life , from birth to death, of someone who is brilliant, creative and suffers from a major mental illness She makes an exhaustive examination of the connection between mania and creativity I have read other books by Jamison, in particular, The Unquiet Mind, in which Jamison writes about her own journey with bipolar illness and [...]

    8. Aida Ghazar on said:

      This is an interesting book.The author has done a very thorough research on Robert Lowell,his personal and literary life and his poetry and prose.Robert Lowell was a gifted poet who was suffering from mania and depression while creating very original and beautiful works of art.Ms Jamison had explored deep in these issues and had tried hard to explain why and how the disorder had affected Lowell s work.Yet one wonders why such an exhaustingly detailed study on mania and depression This is not sup [...]

    9. Carl on said:

      Seventeen years ago I retired from my academic career as a scientist to immerse myself in poetry in reading it, in writing it, and in studying it and poets.Along the way I did encounter Robert Lowell and his poetry and specifically liked a couple of them Skunk Hour and For The Union Dead As for the poet himself I came away with the impression that he was a bit of an oddball, but no sense or perspective on what he contributed to poetry until I read Adam Kirsch s The Wounded Surgeon.But I still ha [...]

    10. Ginny on said:

      Another excellent examination by K Redfield Jamison of the association between bipolar disorder or manic depression, which she prefers to call it, through the eyes and writings of the poet, Robert Lowell Although repetitive at times and thus too long, she writes an engaging narrative of Lowell s life weaving through it how his manic depression influenced his writings and familial relations Last chapter on mortality beautifully articulated.

    11. Susan on said:

      A fascinating book by an author who has written widely on bi polar illness, from which Robert Lowell suffered Interestingly, she does not identify herself as someone with bi polar illness, though her earliest work was about her psychological struggles and successes Or if she did, I didn t see the reference Lowell was a powerful and successful poet Pulitzer Prize twice who was hospitalized numerous times while suffering from mania He then returned home depressed and had to repair relationships he [...]

    12. Neil on said:

      I have very mixed feelings about this title First, let me say I m a long time fan of Lowell s poetry, and I m interested in its connection to his manic depression So I was excited that an author who writes in such a distinguished way about mental illness was taking him up as a subject.But I don t think this book is a total success It s very good at explicating the nature of manic depression, its treatment in Lowell s lifetime, and it s horrible effects on his art and his relationships Still, at [...]

    13. Kevin Adams on said:

      I ve always wanted to learn about Robert Lowell I don t know why specifically I ve heard the name, knew the basic bullet points on him The great poet, manic depressive, Bostonianc When I saw this book was coming out I figured here was a perfect opportunity to learn that and I was blown away Not only by the writing, that was phenomenal, but in Lowell How a person so revered in a field could continue to be successful while bearing this burden on his psyche was incredible Kay Redfield Jamison, or [...]

    14. Sharlie on said:

      Kay Jamison has yet again written a true look into the life of a Bipolar Her knowledge and own personal experience with Bipolar come through with intelligence and compassion This book is a window into Robert Lowells s life with Bipolar Disorder From childhood until his death you get a look into his home life, creativity, and struggle with his illness Beginning in his childhood with his never ending effort to satisfy his parents Telling the reader about his own conflict with understanding his dia [...]

    15. Fred Svoboda on said:

      There is a lot to like in this book, and it helps to correct the very negative views of Lowell in some biography and criticism Much can be forgiven to madness, though not Lowell s dumping his second wife of two decades and their daughter to marry an alcoholic heiress near his life s early age 60 end Jamison seems very much a fan of Lowell, but even she can t quite make this huge error look anything but monstrous This isn t quite a biography biographical detail would fight with the hagiographic e [...]

    16. Nicole on said:

      Mostly this was a good book, and I did enjoy it However, I did have two quibbles, stemming from both myself as a writer and myself as a social scientist First, as a writer, the book very often repeated itself ad nauseum, especially when making assertions about Robert Lowell s genius I don t mind that Jamison was a Lowell fan, but I do mind being told that Lowell was an author of opposing forces 50 times in slightly different ways It gets a bit insulting to the reader after a while I remember you [...]

    17. Bryant on said:

      This is a sensitive, poetic, and rich psychological biography I learned a lot about manic depressive illness and about Lowell s peculiar bouts of madness and lucidity, unreachability and love His poetry means to me now The only time the book faltered, in my view, was when it tried to have things both ways, explaining Lowell s madness as both the mechanism of and obstacle to his genius I think both and is probably right and suits Lowell s complexity, but somehow Jamison s middle section on Chara [...]

    18. David Holoman on said:

      If you are really into the man himself or his poetry, or really interested in mental illness and its influence on creative arts, you might enjoy this book Otherwise it s a four boot slog.It is a 400 page book, in the middle 225 pages the author has only a few points to make, and makes them again and again And again And again.The book goes off the rails in the last 75 pages the ostensible subject of the book is the relationship between mental illness and art as exhibited in Lowell, but in the las [...]

    19. Gordon Grose on said:

      Kay Redfield Jamison, Robert Lowell Setting the River On fire A Study of Genius, Mania, and Character New York Knopf 2017.I spotted Kay Redfield Jamison s name on the NEW shelf at my public library I own another of her books on manic depressive illness, so I felt intrigued by her willingness, as an authority on mania, to write a biography Little did I know the treat I would enjoy Jamison is not only an authority on what is now the mental disorder called bipolar illness, she is also a first rate [...]

    20. Charlene Smith on said:

      Reading this book, it struck me, once , that you are likely to get published and actively promoted in this land of the Almighty Dollar, if you come from a rich family Lowell came from such a family His access to fame was enabled by wealth and family connections, sadly, this is a point the writer does not make I wonder if it even occurred to her Lowell s mania seems as much to do with the malcontent of the ideal rich as it does to biology.The writer researched this well It felt like a PhD thesis [...]

    21. Elizabeth on said:

      I did a skim read after about 1 5th through and just hit upon passages that drew me in I am not a passionate Lowell reader and found this book as with many of late my thoughts always are where s the editor padded, too dense with details not all that compelling repetitions of earlier info I wasn t all that keen on Jamison s writing style trying a bit too hard for all that it was well researched and it gave me insights into his works, plus into those burdened with bi polar disorder.

    22. Connie Johnson on said:

      This book is a fascinating historical account of bipolar disorder and all the struggles of Robert Lowell So many with this disease suffer silently, and yet,the honesty of this biography can be helpful for people who come into contact with poorly or even well managed bipolar disorder.i came to understand the nature of the struggles in a very real way The story rambles a bit but worth finishing.Why no voting buttons We don t let customers vote on their own reviews, so the voting buttons appear onl [...]

    23. Connie Johnson on said:

      Mania unleashedThis book is a fascinating historical account of bipolar disorder and all the struggles of Robert Lowell So many with this disease suffer silently, and yet,the honesty of this biography can be helpful for people who come into contact with poorly or even well managed bipolar disorder.i came to understand the nature of the struggles in a very real way The story rambles a bit but worth finishing.

    24. Dyan on said:

      Exhaustive, thorough examination of Lowell s bipolar disorder as it affected his art and life Jamison knows this terrain personally, having suffered from it as well Lowell s extravagant mood swings, from highest mania to deepest depression are vividly described Jamison s chapter on Illness and Art is profound.

    25. Matt on said:

      Very interesting book about a very interesting poet Regardless of whether you are interested in Lowell, this is a fascinating exploration of the connection between creativity and mood disorders specifically, manic depressive bipolar illness For the Union Dead has always been one of my favorites monumentexcept the ditch,

    26. Heather on said:

      This was a very interesting book It was very hard reading and only could do it in stages If this was your profession it would be easier and not take as long to read But I did enjoy it for the ordinary public I found it interesting.

    27. Vicki Hall on said:

      overall theme of the book is excellent Believe it could have been said in fewer words.

    28. Barry Wightman on said:

      Outstanding literary bio of a complicated character where madness and genius intersect Highly recommended.

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