ONE LIFE by Muriels Rukeyser


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Destined for attention, this complete biography of Wendell Willkie is an experimental book, adding to Muriel Rukeyser's biographical work on Willard Gibbs and to her growth and stature as more than an important American poet. In reality this book about Willkie is a poem, dynamic as was the man and its images equate his character, actions and thoughts with a forceful accuracy, becoming the nearest thing possible to the man, himself. Throughout the book we are told very little. We are presented rather with the actuality of what he saw: ""....through the dream corn, chieftains gathering, closing in...."" or was saying: ""...They talk about flood control. .... But what are they marketing? Political power....they are...underselling the utility companies, and letting you- the taxpayer- make up the loss"". It is a book of impressions but impressions so arranged- in passages from political transcripts and newspapers, from Willkie's own writings and the statements of others about him, and from Miss Rukeyser's poems using these as a background- that they add up to more than the mere reporting of fact. Though they are not explained in so many words one comes to understand the important issues of the New Deal era, the battle of a man who fought the accumulation of power and who lived, during a short, full life, to see a unique aftermath of his defeat for the presidency. As a fully researched study which at the same time recreates its subject in imaginative from this sets new precedents in American writing.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster