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The Bard:
Robert Burns, A Biography
Robert Crawford

Winner of the Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year
Shortlisted for the 2010 Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book Award in Nonfiction, Scottish Arts Council

Hardcover | 2009 | $35.00 | ISBN: 9780691141718
480 pp. | 6 x 8 1/2 | 1 halftone.
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No writer is more charismatic than Robert Burns. Wonderfully readable, The Bard catches Burns's energy, brilliance, and radicalism as never before. To his international admirers he was a genius, a hero, a warm-hearted friend; yet to the mother of one of his lovers he was a wastrel, to a fellow poet he was "sprung . . . from raking of dung," and to his political enemies a "traitor." Drawing on a surprising number of untapped sources--from rediscovered poetry by Burns to manuscript journals, correspondence, and oratory by his contemporaries--this new biography presents the remarkable life, loves, and struggles of the great poet.

Inspired by the American and French Revolutions and molded by the Scottish Enlightenment, Burns was in several senses the first of the major Romantics. With a poet's insight and a shrewd sense of human drama, Robert Crawford outlines how Burns combined a childhood steeped in the peasant song-culture of rural Scotland with a consummate linguistic artistry to become not only the world's most popular love poet but also the controversial master poet of modern democracy.

Written with accessible elan and nuanced attention to Burns's poems and letters, The Bard is the story of an extraordinary man fighting to maintain a sly sense of integrity in the face of overwhelming pressures. This incisive biography startlingly demonstrates why the life and work of Scotland's greatest poet still compel the attention of the world a quarter of a millennium after his birth.


"Crawford's Burns, merrily mixing high and low culture, seems eerily contemporary. He shares with great hip-hop artists a genius for catchy, sexy, and memorable rhymes gloriously liberated from the hegemony of standard English."--New Yorker

"[A] searching and sensitive biography. . . . Crawford is an academic himself, a professor at the University of St. Andrews, as well as a poet, and perhaps that is why disparagement of Burns by academics worries him so much. For Crawford, however, Burns's gradual disappearance from 'the research culture of modern academia' is a serious concern, and this biography seeks to show why his poetry is worth literary examination, as well as how it is illuminated by his life. . . . [A]nd it is in the tonal analysis of Burns's poems that Crawford is at his best in this outstanding book."--John Carey, New York Review of Books

"The first twenty-first-century biography of Scotland's national poet publishes on January 25, 2009, the two-hundred-fiftieth anniversary of his birth, and it is an exceptional book."--Ray Olson, Booklist (Starred review)

"The joy of Robert Crawford's biography of Burns is that it restores much-needed complexity to the image of the Ayrshire balladeer poet whose pretty face adorns everything from tea-towels to biscuit tins in his home country."--Lesley McDowell, The Independent (UK)

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Table of Contents:

Acknowledgements ix
Reading Burns's Poems 1
Introduction 3
CHAPTER I. First an’ Foremost 15
CHAPTER III. Belles 124
CHAPTER IV. Bard 179
CHAPTER V. New World 237
CHAPTER VI. Rhinoceros 291
CHAPTER VII. Staunch Republicans 337
Abbreviations 409
Notes 413
Index 451

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 Hardcover : $35.00 ISBN: 9780691141718

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