Life Studies and For the Union Dead

FSG Classics

Robert Lowell

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Trade Paperback

176 Pages



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Robert Lowell, with Elizabeth Bishop, stands apart as the greatest American poet of the latter half of the twentieth century—and Life Studies and For the Union Dead stand as among his most important volumes. In Life Studies, which was first published in 1959, Lowell moved away from the formality of his earlier poems and started writing in a more confessional vein. The title poem of For the Union Dead concerns the death of the Civil War hero (and Lowell ancestor) Robert Gould Shaw, but it also largely centers on the contrast between Boston's idealistic past and its debased present at the time of its writing, in the early 1960's. Throughout, Lowell addresses contemporaneous subjects in a voice and style that themselves push beyond the accepted forms and constraints of the time.


Praise for Life Studies and For the Union Dead

"[Life Studies] gives us the naked psyche of a suffering man in a hostile world, and Lowell's way to manage this material, to keep it, is by his insistent emphasis on form. The natural heir to Eliot and Pound as well as to Crane, he extends their methods."—M. L. Rosenthal, Salmagundi

"No other English or American poet of his generation has, in his handling of language, the sheer brute strength [that Lowell has in For the Union Dead]; no other poet is so deeply moved not only by moral but by physical horror and disgust (which can include self-disgust), and by a kind of blind Samson-like ferocity. And yet, insensibly, in Lowell's hands, the tale of the world's horrors becomes a tale of the world's wonders, the catalogue of obscure absurdities, a song of praise."—G. S. Fraser, The New York Times Book Review

"Robert Lowell is, by something like a critical consensus, the greatest American poet of the mid-century . . . More than any contemporary writer, poet, or novelist, Lowell has created the language, cool and violent all at once, of contemporary introspection."—Richard Poirier, Book Week

Reviews from Goodreads



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