ROBERT BURNS: The Man, His Work, The Legend by Maurice Lindsay

ROBERT BURNS: The Man, His Work, The Legend

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The preeminent bard of Scotland, Robert Burns was unsurpassed as a satirist and as a poet of earthy human experience as well as of his homeland's dialects. Such is Maurice Lindsay's theme in this first American edition of his popular British biography (2nd ed., 1979). Quoting extensively from Burns' works with commentary (and depending heavily on the criticism of David Daiches and the standard biography by F. B. Snyder), Lindsay sketches Burns' life as a financially troubled farmer, hearty lover, sharp critic of conventional piety and hypocrisy, and a writer who sought recognition as both a ""Scots poet exulting in the vigour of the native traditions"" and as an English poet of ""genteel sentimentality."" Lindsay decries this second aspiration as a misguided effort to please the educated few, believing Burns' best poems register the passions and actualities of the common life--sex, parenthood, community. And as a Scots writer himself (a poet and author of many books about Scotland), Lindsay most admires the poems that seem most Scottish--especially the Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, which captured ""the life and manners of rural Scotland"" before ""industrialism and Englishry disrupted the ancient traditional pattern."" This strong native sense of Burns' Scottishness helps Lindsay achieve his modest aim here, which is to awaken the ""general reader"" to the pleasures of Burns' poetry (including the bawdiest songs, The Merry Muses of Caledonia, first published in the 1960s) and particularly to ""the rich vernacular glory"" of Burns' finest work. But Daiches' Robert Burns and His Worm remains the best all-round introduction.

Pub Date: Aug. 17th, 1979
Publisher: St. Martin's