Robinson Jeffers: Poet and Prophet


Product Details

Stanford University Press
Publish Date
5.56 X 8.47 X 0.33 inches | 0.69 pounds
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About the Author

James Karman, Emeritus Professor of English and Religious Studies at California State University, Chico, is the author of Robinson Jeffers: Poet of California (1987).


"Karman discusses each of the poet's major books . . . and celebrates the poet's diverse output: meditative lyrics, long narratives, verse dramas. Karman also addresses issues that made Jeffers controversial . . . [and] urges a reevaluation of this 'anti-modern modernist, ' emphasizing the ways in which Jeffers anticipated today's ecological concerns. Succinct, lucid, informative, evenhanded in its judgments, this is the best overview currently available of Jeffers's life and work."--Choice
"James Karman's new biography of Robinson Jeffers is an excellent introduction to one of America's greatest poets and a fine complement to Stanford University Press' exemplary editions of Jeffers' collected poetry and correspondence, the latter edited by Karman himself. The course of Jeffers' biography is clearly and deftly laid out, with particular attention to the most crucial relationship of his life, that with his wife Una. Each of his published books is individually considered, with trenchant analyses and generous quotations from key texts. The book situates Jeffers both among his major Modernist contemporaries and among the other poets--not necessarily less important--who constituted his milieu. It carefully tracks Jeffers' engagement with the history of his times, and the stance he marked out as its tragic observer. Finally, it shows Jeffers as a figure who evolved a singularly holistic view of humanity's place in the cosmic order at a time of fragmentation and division, and whose relevance to today's world has only grown with time. Karman's book will be of equal value to the introductory reader and the advanced specialist. It is written in a clear and supple prose that rises to more than occasional eloquence, and is generously illustrated with images both of the poet and of the wild California coast he made so uniquely his own."--Robert Zaller "author of Robinson Jeffers and the American Sublime "
"Karman chronicles Jeffers's life in measured prose, and his close readings of the poems draw out the prophetic, visionary voice of Jeffers's verse, most notably in his anticipation of current environmental concerns...Overall, this is an accessible and engaging biography that will be of use both to new readers of Jeffers's work and to advanced specialists."--Forum for Modern Language Studies
"James Karman's deeply informative biography of Robinson Jeffers situates the poet in his time and place, tracing the effect of both contemporary history and wild nature on his work. In eloquent prose Karman evokes the grandeur of Jeffers's poetry and argues for its author's unique position amid the constellation of major poets of his day."--Edwin Cranston "Harvard University "
"Only now, it seems, are we beginning to hear what Robinson Jeffers proclaimed decades ago--that to live an authentic life we must overcome self-centeredness and turn with compassion to the natural world. The wisdom of Jeffers' message is evident throughout his life and work, as James Karman convincingly demonstrates in this splendid book."--Joanna Macy "author of World as Lover, World as Self "
"Robinson Jeffers: Poet and Prophet gives us an occasion to get reacquainted with the poet's work. Karman economically tracks the development of the poetry in parallel with the events and trends of the times."--Ron Slate "On the Seawall: A Literary Website by Ron Slate "
"Perhaps now, with the publication of the third and final volume of his letters and a short biography by their editor, James Karman, the time has come to bring Jeffers back to a wide readership. The letters detail his life in its dailiness, as well as its surprising outbursts of drama, while Mr. Karman's biography places Jeffers in the context of the literature and events of his era. Taken together, they are very nearly the major, full-length study that Jeffers really deserves . . . [Karman's] biography humanizes the inhumanist and will help new readers understand Jeffers's importance, while leaving room for a full-length life in the future."--David Mason "The Wall Street Journal "
"Jeffers sought a plausible and sustaining vision, sought it explicitly outside the human circle, but sought it with an unremittingly human yearning."--Louise Glück "Poet Laureate, author of The Wild Iris "
"A deliberate outlier from his generation of American poets, Robinson Jeffers stood apart both literarily and literally . . . Karman discusses Jeffers' achievements in the context of his, his wife Una's and their twin sons' isolated yet everyday normal family life . . . This elegant review of a truly unique poet who has become a prophet of modern environmentalism belongs in all American literature collections."--Ray Olson "Booklist "