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Spoon River Anthology

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  5,178 ratings  ·  371 reviews
From "Edgar Lee Masters's Spoon River Anthology was an immediate commercial success when it was published in 1915. Unconventional in both style and content, it shattered the myths of small town American life. A collection of epitaphs of residents of a small town, a full understanding of Spoon River requires the reader to piece together narratives f ...more
Paperback, 112 pages
Published November 3rd 2006 by Hard Press (first published 1915)
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Chiara Pagliochini
« Molte volte ho studiato
la lapide che mi hanno scolpito:
una barca con vele ammainate, in un porto.
In realtà non è questa la mia destinazione
ma la mia vita.
Perché l’amore mi si offrì e io mi ritrassi dal suo inganno;
il dolore bussò alla mia porta, e io ebbi paura;
l’ambizione mi chiamò, ma io temetti gli imprevisti.
Malgrado tutto avevo fame di un significato nella vita.
E adesso so che bisogna alzare le vele
e prendere i venti del destino,
dovunque spingano la barca.
Dare un senso alla vita può
Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, published in 1915, is a unique literary experience.

A collection of inter-related free-form poems, each title a person’s name, and each person a resident of the town cemetery. Masters has each relate a short story; some folks talk about their life, many about the circumstances of their death. Husbands and wives relate different perspectives of the same events, lovers and soldiers tell of their history, and each is a distinct, poetic voice.

Masters begins
244 dead residents of the Midwestern town of Spoon River (some based on real people and some fictional) tell the stories of their triumphs, frustrations, unrequited longings, their secrets --- often harboring lingering grudges about people buried alongside them. Whole families and neighbors, crosstalking in death. Each poem is titled with the name of the person speaking; each is short and most of them are heartbreaking. The wife and husband and the doctor, all scandalized by an abortion, the boy ...more
I've trawled through many a 19th century small town newspaper for various research projects, and one's dirty linen was often hung out to dry for public view in the printed word. Old men running off with the serving girls, errant wives being tracked down and found in flagrante with their lovers, etc. I've even got a great-great-uncle whose wife was run out of town on a rail by "The Community" for her illicit affair with a neighbor. Nasty little Victorian Peyton Places. Reading Spoon River Antholo ...more
Not a bad book, but not one I would read again or recommend to others. It's a collection of free-verse poems, crafted as epitaphs of the former citizens of the Midwestern town Spoon River. While there were some meaningful poems and well-developed characters, there were quite a few sections that I did not care for at all. I've never been an ardent fan of poetry, though, and this one, while a good read, did nothing to change that.

Here's my favorite poem from the book:

"George Gray:
I have studied ma
Maria  (Scratchbook)
Masters coltivò le sue storie in un clima pregno di tragedia, un tempo nel quale le piccole realtà facevano da intermezzo tra grandi alleati e grandi nemici, vecchi miti e nuovi eroi. La gente normale non era interessante, non faceva presa. Eppure era proprio quella gente che, nella sua semplicità, deteneva la "verità umana".

Se i morti potessero parlare, sarebbero sinceri: liberi dall'obbligo della buona educazione, dal dover mantenere la necessaria discrezione tra vicini e familiari, dalla necessità di salvare le apparenze in nome dell'onore, insomma da tutti i meccanismi che hanno regolato l'ipocrisia della loro vita sociale, direbbero finalmente quello che, in vita, non hanno mai potuto dire. Un intero villaggio di morti improvvisamente coscienti della propria libertà di parola dà vita, in maniera quasi teatrale, ...more
I have read this book about 50 times, in bits and pieces, and about a half-dozen from start to finish in order. I love it.

Let me start with what the book is about. This is a book of free-form poems that serves as a narrative, each poem told from the point of view of a resident of Spoon River who has died and who is telling their story after the fact, their own epitaph. Some poems go together, some stand alone, but they form the elaborate portrait of a community.

A seeming non-sequitur, perhaps,
Herbert Marshall

Tutto il tuo dolore, Louise, e l'odio per me nacquero dalla tua illusione che fosse capriccio dello spirito e disprezzo dei diritti della tua anima a spingermi verso Annabelle e lasciarti.
In realta' tu arrivasti a odiarmi per amore, perche' ero la gioia della tua anima, formato e temprato per risolverti la vita, ma non volli.
Tu invece eri il mio strazio. Se tu fossi stata la mia felicita', non mi sarei forse aggrappato a te?
Questo e' l'amaro della vita: che solo in due si puo'
Ben Loory
i admit that i probably love the idea of this book more than the actual book, but i love the idea of it so damn much that the actual thing still gets five stars. a portrait of a small american town through the from-the-dead poem-soliloquies of hundreds of its departed inhabitants, it's unlike any other book i've ever read. the dead folk discuss their lives and deaths and thoughts and beliefs and relationships with each other, the town, and the larger world. it's from the dead so there's a pronou ...more
L'ombra della morte, per ridare alla vita le sue dimensioni. Per restituire il giusto senso alle cose, oltre lo scempio delle millanterie dei vivi. Una geniale intuizione, quella di di E.L.Masters, capace di rendere, in pochi tratti di poesia, tutte le profondità dell'esistenza.

PS - Interessantissimi e illuminanti i saggi introduttivi, di Fernanda Pivano e Cesare Pavese
After a full summer battling Infinite Jest (and thoroughly enjoying it), this book was welcome relief. It is a mix of homespun wisdom and incredibly insightful commentary. While very accessible, Masters is astute. He has a lot to say about living, death, and regret (and a surprising amount on lawyers). This is the kind of book you can give to your Grandma, with a nice note that says "I love you," and then have something to discuss over the holidays as you help her wash the dishes.

On morality's
In quest'antologia Lee Masters dà voce al mondo dei morti di un villaggio americano del Midwest, Spoon River, appunto. I morti vogliono raccontare la loro verità, che è stata molto spesso taciuta e ignorata pIn quest'antologia Lee Masters dà voce al mondo dei morti di un villaggio americano del Midwest, Spoon River, appunto. I morti vogliono raccontare la loro verità, che è stata molto spesso taciuta e ignorata per ipocrisia, convenienza, ecc.
Un'antologia di imprecazioni, lamenti, epitaffi sull
The whole is far greater than the sum of its parts.

Edgar Lee Masters' great work is impressive in its scope; with over two hundred "epitaphs," each one an individual person, the collection takes apart small-town America in the early 20th century with astonishing precision. Masters makes no bones about the presence of corruption and cruelty (Thomas Rhodes is frequently indicted by the other dead), secret sins, everything that those who would have lived in a town like Spoon River saw every day of
Edgar Lee Master’s Spoon River Anthology is a series of poems representing the voices of Spoon River, a fictional Southern town. The citizens, who speak from beyond the grave on The Hill, tell of their lives and those they knew, lamenting on various aspects of their past life. The poems have a dramatic monologue, epitaph-like quality; they are snapshots of emotion, philosophy, wisdom and morals from these residents.

The individual voices of Spoon River are quite diverse, as you might imagine. Mu
Breve nota esplicativa da leggersi prima della recensione:
Io non amo la poesia.
Ho letto quel tanto che la scuola e l’università hanno comandato, nonché qualche testo selezionato per mio piacere e cultura personale. Tra questi, mi è capitata tra le mani l’Antologia di Spoon River.
Tutto ciò, per anticiparvi che non sono un’esperta di poesia, dimentico sempre i nomi di tutte le figure retoriche, non m’importa molto del ritmo né della rima: le poesie che mi catturano il cuore, le amo per le immagini
To think of a small town cemetery is to imagine peace. So begins the foreword of Edgar Lee Master's Spoon River Anthology. If only there was peace while the residents were living, but that doesn't sound likely does it. Well, dead bodies can't really bicker that much can they? Maybe just a bit.

Small town life is often presented incorrectly. Have you seen the movie about the Mystic pizza place in Connecticut? I haven't, but I've been there. It's okay. My family went to the living history type plac
This is a conceptually intriguing book in which the residents (represented by over 200 poems) of a small town cemetery speak from the grave about the truth as they see it, being free from social pressure or potential retribution to present themselves or others in a good light.

I think it's important to remember that Masters was a lawyer by profession, a person who had heard people's testimonies about incidents and different people and had seen how judges and juries dealt with them. This book isn'
E.L. Masters dà voce a una cittadina fantasma, e i suoi abitanti da sotto terra svelano i propri segreti, le proprie ossessioni e tutti gli scandali e i peccati più o meno gravi di cui si sono macchiati. Un coro di voci che si alternano e si rispondono, raccontando la vita dal punto di vista della morte.
Grady McCallie
I can appreciate why, at the time of its publication in 1915, the book was seen as creative in its structure -- lots of short poems, each in the voice or a different deceased former resident of the town of Spoon River, Illinois -- and bracingly blunt in its substance. Some of the deceased admit to having committed murder or adultery; others offer sardonic reflections - all is vanity and chasing the wind. Since then, of course, the themes have become commonplace, and been explored with greater nu ...more
I really enjoyed this. I was attracted to it as an example of a populist experimental narrative form... over 200 verse monologues of dead people buried together in a small-town cemetery. It was a best seller in 1914 or so. Not something I necessarily expected to read all the way through, but it caught me up and won my attention away from a couple other books I was reading simultaneously. Then made me pick up a little Whitman after I was done.

Great sense of the small-town Midwest in its golden ag
Published in 1914, each poem in the Spoon River Anthology is an imagined epitaph, spoken from the perspective of a dead resident of Spoon River, Illinois. Each has its own voice, and its own story. Some of the dead speak of contentment and happiness - most speak of heart wrenching loss and longing. Read together, they paint a vivid picture of the 19th century small-town American mid-west, rife with struggles political (robber barons, corrupt bankers, labor conflicts, prohibitionists, suffragette ...more
This anthology had an amazing concept: a town of the dead reflecting upon their miserable or satisfying lives.

An example of the MISERABLE was

Oscar Hummel

I staggered on through darkness,
There was a hazy sky, a few stars
Which I followed as best I could.
It was nine o'clock, I was trying to get home.
But somehow I was lost,
Though really keeping the road.
Then I reeled through a gate and into a yard,
And called at the top of my voice:
"Oh, Fiddler! Oh, Mr. Jones!"
(I thought it was his house and he would
I usually do not read poetry because I do not like it that much but with Spoon River Anthology it was love at first sight.
I first read a part of it on my literature text book at school and then one of my friends lend me the book. It has been a beautiful reading. Masters drives the reader into the deepest secret, passion, desires and regrets of the Spoon River population and this slow descent into the old life of the spirits of the cemetery gives the reader a deeper understanding of human nature.
[...] Avete mai camminato col vento nelle orecchie / e la luce del sole intorno a voi / e scoperto che improvvisamente brillava di un segreto splendore? / Fuori dal fango molte volte, / davanti a molte porte di luce, / attraverso molti campi di splendore, / dove intorno ai tuoi passi una tacita gloria si espande / come neve appena caduta, / tu andrai attraverso la terra, O anima forte, / e attraverso innumerevoli cieli, / alla vampa finale! (Arlo Will)
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I heard about this anthology first in The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker, and when I went back to look for it, I also found an album based on the songs. So I used my Rhapsody account and listened to The Hill by Richard Buckner while reading the 244 accounts by dead people in the cemetary on the hill in Spoon River.

Some of my favorites included Robert Davidson (creepy), Faith Matheny (and her visions of God and love), Mary McNeely ("Passerby, To love is to find your own soul through the soul of t
Kerry CS Literary Jewelry
Throw Back Thursday Book Review

Since April is National Poetry Month, I thought I would re-visit one of my favorite collections of free verse poems, Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters.

When I first reviewed, Spoon River Anthology back in 2012, I wrote:

“Spoon River Anthology is a fascinating collection of poetic epithets where the dead, sleeping on the hill, rise and give some insights into their lives, their deaths, their triumphs and their tragedies. Many of the poems intersect and int
Geniuswill42 Ramsey
We read selections from this in English and I was like "Whoa this is a cool and eclectic mix of epitaphs written by themselves." I get the book and realize that it's not an eclectic mix it's just one unrealistically depressing epitaph after another of people having affairs and lieing all the time and I'm like "OK no town is this depressing." It just got repeptive and sameish. If it was 20 pages shorter it would have been better, but it was just overkill of the same basic idea over and over again ...more
This was our most recent book club selection and it wasn't my favorite. At times I felt like I was wading through a college assignment trying to make sense of some of the poems, and overall, it was just pretty negative and depressing. There were a handful of the poems (monologues from people buried in the cemetery of a small town) that I really liked, but overall there were too many that dealt with affairs, murders and basically the lifeview that God isn't important and there is no purpose to li ...more
Bello, bello!
Poesie? No, testimonianze di vita. Fatiche, dolori, speranze, rabbia. E ancora malattie, omicidi, ingiustizie e - oggi come allora - il grido sofferente delle donne sempre vessate, sempre vittime di uomini possessivi e violenti o, nell'ipotesi migliore, di convenzioni sociali rigide e fatiche quotidiane.
Attraverso i versi, dalla collina si elevano grida di vendetta, richieste di giustizia, assoluzioni, rimproveri, bisbigli di dolore e rimpianto, segreti trapelati.
Mi sono piaciute
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Edgar Lee Masters (Garnett, Kansas, August 23, 1868 - Melrose Park, Pennsylvania, March 5, 1950) was an American poet, biographer, and dramatist. He is the author of Spoon River Anthology, The New Star Chamber and Other Essays, Songs and Satires, The Great Valley, The Serpent in the Wilderness An Obscure Tale, The Spleen, Mark Twain: A Portrait, Lincoln: The Man, and Illinois Poems. In all, Master ...more
More about Edgar Lee Masters...
Il nuovo Spoon River: Testo inglese a fronte Antologia di Spoon River - Il nuovo Spoon River Edgar Lee Masters, Anthology (Spoon River Anthology, Domesday Book, Children of the Market Place, Mitch Miller, Toward the Gulf and Songs and Satires) Across Spoon River Spoon River Song Album

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“To this generation I would say:
Memorize some bit of verse of truth or beauty.”
“To put meaning in one's life may end in madness,
But life without meaning is the torture
Of restlessness and vague desire--
It is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid.”
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