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Robert Frost: A Life

4.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  182 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
This fascinating reassessment of America's most popular and famous poet reveals a more complex and enigmatic man than many readers might expect. Jay Parini spent over twenty years interviewing friends of Robert Frost and working in the poet's archives at Dartmouth, Amherst, and elsewhere to produce this definitive and insightful biography of both the public and private man ...more
Paperback, 528 pages
Published March 15th 2000 by Picador (first published 1998)
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Aug 26, 2012 Julie rated it really liked it
I've read several Frost biographies and consider this the best one. Parini not only tries to make a corrective and a balanced treatment to Lawrance Thompson's hatchet job bio, but as a poet himself, skillfully and sensitively interprets Frost's work through each chapter of his life.
Thompson was hand-picked by Frost to be his official biographer, but came to hate his subject, and portrayed Frost to the world in his darkest and ugliest moods. What great artist can win public sentiment when only th
Jun 20, 2011 Andrew rated it it was amazing
Born in San Francisco, named after Robert E Lee (whom his father admired).

from age 7 to the end of his life, believed he heard voices. "He liked to be alone and just to listen, to communicate with the spirit-world."

"We go to college to be given one more chance to learn to read in case we haven't learned in High School. Once we have learned to read, the rest can be trusted to add itself unto us."

His sister suffered from psych problems; he feared it in himself and often suffered from depression.
Nov 04, 2010 H added it
Shelves: biography
"The contradictions of his life remain stunning. He was a loner who liked company; a poet of isolation who sought a mass audience; a rebel who sought to fit in. Although a family man to the core, he frequently felt alienated from his wife and children and withdrew into reveries." (446) ... "He was a fierce anticommunist who embraced Nikita Khrushchev personally, calling him 'a great man.' As Katherine Kearns has said, Frost's 'near-phobic distaste for systems . . . exceeds even the most potent A ...more
Maggie Ferguson
"Never again would the birds' song be the same./And to do this to the birds was why she came."

When Maurice Thompson first read "My Butterfly" he wrote he recognized "an appeal to sympathy lying deep in one's sources of tenderness" and "thought of all the probable disappointment in store for young Frost all his life."

The whisper of a scythe.

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in the rain--and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light
Sep 03, 2011 Philip rated it really liked it
"Robert Frost - A Life" is one of the best biographies I have read. It addresses, in a very balanced way, the historical facts in Frost's life, the important occurrences, the strong influences on him and his poetry, and his poetry itself--Parini analyzes many of Frost's best poems, but never so as to make this a work of literary criticism as opposed to a complete biography. The book is well-written and never drags. Parini manages to pull together the disparate strands of Frost's highly complex c ...more
John Giudice
Nov 29, 2014 John Giudice rated it it was ok
Boring, tedious, and weighed down by superfluous detail. Parini paints a portrait of a poet that is privileged and pampered. The excerpts he chooses as illustrations are obscure and often with absurd and far-fetched interpretations. Reading this book from cover to cover was arduous and painstaking. It does not inspire the reader to want to return to the book, but rather instills a desire for the book to come to a quick and abrupt end which, unfortunately, takes too long to arrive.
Feb 27, 2009 Ednatee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
What is the measure of a man?
How well he stands up to uncertainty, doubt, and even failure.
How well he weathers the storms of life.
How well he considers his neighbor as well as himself within the common bonds of human suffering.
How well he overcomes his fear of darkness and uncertainty and how uncrippled by his own inadequacies he remains.
By being the best man he knows how to be.

May 09, 2015 Laura rated it liked it
A lovely biography including fine poetical analysis of a selection of Frost poems. Parini does lapse into extended detail of (perhaps) trivial aspects of Frost's life, as is a common fault of biographers. I would have preferred fewer details about each house Frost inhabited and greater detailed poetry analysis or even further exploration of Frost's relationships and correspondence.
Dec 08, 2009 Jsarno49 rated it really liked it
Parini has written a very scholarly yet readable biography of Robert Frost. The work describes Frost's life covering 2-5 years in each chapter. But the joy of this book is that Parini includes analysis of Frost's poetry. His insights into the man and his poems are enlightening. This is a very well documented and researched book which is a joy to read.
May 31, 2015 Victoria rated it liked it
Very interesting. Read for American Lit. research project.
Michael Arnold
Jul 02, 2015 Michael Arnold rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
What an excellent biography of Frost! It took me a while to get through it, thanks to other commitments, but I'm so glad I read this book. I borrowed it from a library, but I will get my own copy of this book for my own sake. Very highly recommended to anyone interested in poetry!
May 19, 2009 Yeti rated it really liked it
A brilliant rendering of the New England poet's life. Parini delves deep into the myth and exposes the man for all to see, whether in his misery or his glory. Parini's insight is excellent. I also like how he intertwines criticism with biography.
Aug 01, 2013 kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I borrowed this book from the library and very soon realized that I wanted to own it as a resource/companion to enhance my reading of Frost's poetry.
Nov 04, 2009 Holden rated it liked it
Read several chapters, which were kinda interesting, then I got bored. I apparently don't have the mind of a poet.
Jul 30, 2008 Bob rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
An interesting biography of a poet. It illustrates the dark side of Frost, as well as the more familiar folksy side.
Mar 28, 2008 Anne rated it really liked it
I love Robert Frost. This book is a good way to get to know more about the person behind those incredible poems.
A lovely, lovely read. Reinvigorates, renews, enriches American love for the American poet.
Steven Withrow
Apr 16, 2011 Steven Withrow rated it it was amazing
The most readable biography I've read in a long while, and great overview of Frost's life and work.
Mar 01, 2014 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poets, bio-memoir
well-researched portrayal of Robert Frost - his life and his poems
Dec 18, 2007 Melissa rated it liked it
Nice reading but slow towards the end...interesting man...
Lorrieann mcgee
Mar 19, 2013 Lorrieann mcgee rated it really liked it
Simple poems, complex man
Nov 20, 2009 Steve rated it liked it
Shelves: books-of-2009
A great poet
Aug 07, 2011 Janet marked it as to-read
Recommended to Janet by: Globe
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Jay Parini (born 1948) is an American writer and academic. He is known for novels and poetry, biography and criticism.
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