This biography illuminates and explores the complexities and contradictions of Burns's character and personality, untangling the myth from the legend. Based on new evidence from 700 letters Burns wrote during his life, McIntyre concentrates on the circumstances of the writing of poetry itself, and paints a vivid picture of Burns's emotional and impulsive political views, the cruelty and gentleness of which he was capable, stressing the importance and the quality of the satirical poetry as well as the unforgettable love poetry immediately associated with his name.
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No other poet excites such fanatical – and sometimes ignorant – devotion as Robert Burns. "What an antithetical mind!" Lord Byron wrote of Scotland's most famous poet: "Tenderness, roughness – delicacy, coarseness – sentiment, sensuality – soaring and grovelling – dirt and deity – all mixed up in that compound of inspired clay!"
Ian McIntyre's biography, marking the bicentenary of Burns's death, strips away myth and legend and explores what lies beneath. Based meticulously on documentary and archival sources, McIntyre offers a more extensive evaluation of Burns's songs and poetry than most previous biographers and stresses the importance and quality of the satirical verse as well as the haunting love poetry for which he is best known. McIntyre's balance between scepticism and enthusiasm ensures that the "lewd, amazing peasant of genius" emerges clearer, less idealized, more sharply appreciated – and perhaps more truly great – than from any previous biography.
"If you read Burns, then buy this. If you don't read Burns, then start"
"Ian McIntyre transports you absolutely into the world of his subject… A shrewd, clear, comprehensive and wonderfully readable portrait of Burns as fallible man and gifted poet."
A.C. Grayling, 'Financial Times'
"Ian McIntyre has done Burns justice, all the more so because he is never blind to his weaknesses. The man lives in his pages, and what more can you ask of a biography?"
ALLAN MASSIE, 'Daily Telegraph'
“McIntyre's rigorously detailed, compellingly told life will surely emerge as the best history to date of this charming and contradictory genius."
JOHN McEWEN, 'Spectator'
Ian McIntyre was born in Kincardineshire, the native county of Robert Burns’s father. At Cambridge he read Modern Languages and was President of the Union. He was for nine years Controller of Radio 3 and is a former Associate Editor of ‘The Times’. An occasional broadcaster and a regular contributor to ‘The Times’ book pages, he has most recently published ‘The Expense of Glory’, his highly praised life of the BBC’s first Director-General, John Reith.
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Book Description Harpercollins Pub Ltd, 1996. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0006387594