A biography of Robert Burns, arguably one of the world's greatest poets. This work places him and his poetry in the context of the period in which he lived. In many respects Burns remains an enigma to this day, and controversy continues to overshadow and obscure much of his life. Even the manner and cause of his death remains a subject which is ...
A biography of Robert Burns, arguably one of the world's greatest poets. This work places him and his poetry in the context of the period in which he lived. In many respects Burns remains an enigma to this day, and controversy continues to overshadow and obscure much of his life. Even the manner and cause of his death remains a subject which is hotly debated. There are many discrepancies and contradictions, myths and half-truths, distortions and outright falsehoods which prevail to this day, some created or connived at by the man himself and many others perpetrated by previous biographers who had a certain axe to grind. Not the least important aspect of this new work is a re-appraisal of earlier biographers and a re-examination of their sources. Another new dimension has been the study of the lives of those with whom Burns came into contact, those who influenced the course of his life and the quality and range of his work. This life of Scotland's national poet is set against the world in which he lived and the events which shaped his outlook. The Scotland in which Burns lived was in ferment, in which the old religious orthodoxies werre being challenged, in which the ideals of the French Revolution threatened the political status quo, in which the agricultural and industrial revolutions were rapidly transforming everyday living, in which the philosophy of the Enlightenment and the Augustan age in literature were overturning the way in which people thought and read. All these left their mark on Burns, and he, in turn, left his mark on them.
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Publishers Weekly, 1993-06-14 Published previously in Great Britain, this well-researched examination of the life of Scotland's National Poet (1759-1796) relies heavily on primary source materials. Although he was born into a farming family and was poorly educated, Burns wrote artfully and skillfully in standard English as well as in the Scottish vernacular. He became renowned for his narrative poems such as ``Tam O'Shanter'' and song lyrics that include ``Auld Lang Syne.'' MacKay, a Burns scholar ( Complete Works ), here argues that his subject's reputation was unfairly destroyed by earlier studies portraying Burns as a drunkard and a rake. Burns fathered several illegitimate children, but he also married and was responsible for his wife and their nine legitimate children. He indulged in alcohol no more than the average 18th-century male. A richly detailed study that places Burns's life within a proper historical framework. (Aug.)
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