Life Studies
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Life Studies

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  140 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Life Studies is the fourth book of poems by Robert Lowell. Most critics (including Helen Vendler, Steven Gould Axelrod, Adam Kirsch, and others) consider it one of Lowell's most important books, and the Academy of American Poets named it one of their Groundbreaking Books. Helen Vendler called Life Studies Lowell's "most original book." It won the National Book Award for Po...more
90 pages
Published (first published 1956)
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christopher leibow
Life Studies is a naked view of a man confessing his suffering to the world. I found these poems wonderfully accurate and imagistically beautiful. The poems of memory, and perspective are an amazing achievement. Lowell’s ability to look at events from the perspective of an adult remembers and interprets the experience and the child that experienced it, is quiet amazing. I have been dwelling on the images of the young child speaker in My Last Afternoon with Uncle Devereaux Winslow, “One of my han...more
Robert Lashley
Like the poetry and the genre he created, Robert Lowell’s Life Studies is torn by its polarities. Published in 1959, the book is considered to be the birth of confessional poetry, shocking readers with dishy personal observations and a language that could be traditional yet deliciously nervy. Today, Life Studies reads like a great writer struggling for his soul; an artist adept in language and rhetoric veering between impulses of humanism and self-destruction. Gradually, Lowell would lose this s...more
Valerie
I read Life Studies because I recently picked up Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell, and I wanted to read some of both writer's poetry before I read their correspondence. I also read a lot of biographies about writers like Dream Song: The Life of John Berryman and The Fading Smile: Poets in Boston from Robert Lowell to Sylvia Plath which mentioned a lot about Lowell, even if they weren't primarily about him. There is also Anne Sexton's poem about...more
Rupert Psmith
After the impressive sonorities of the opening formal poems, you'll have to endure Lowell's spate of incomprehensibly published prose nostalgia in order to get to the fourth and final section of Life Studies, which made the book, deservedly so, one of the indispensable volumes of twentieth century poetry.
Oye Aborishade
My opinion maybe swayed as I can relate to some of the poems on a very personal level.
Despite that, his use of the English language and imagery is second to none, he incorporates the 'raw and cooked' poetry with a brave autobiographical style that has influenced and inspired.

I dislike the term 'Confessional Poetry' I might add
Favourites: Home after Three Months Away- Skunk Hour- Memories of West and Lepke- Man and Wife
Lisa
My god how had I remembered liking this more? What did I fall in love with here at 15? I still like Lowell's willingness to mention certain unmentionables about his family, and of course Skunk Hour is a terrific poem, but much of the rest is bad prosy plodding.
Todd
Am I wrong to think of Lowell as in the way of Whitman more than in the way of Dickinson? I really liked these poems. I have read a lot of poetry these past couple of years. This is magnificent and strange and took a long time to read.
Keith
Mad Boston Catholic sifts through impossibly detailed childhood memories and self-aggrandizing oral family histories to fashion a mirror to his own private pathos from a tender, damning portrait of his father as a dreamy misfit failure.
Karina Lickorish
Beautiful poetry that manages to both reflect the trials and personal experiences of the writer (or at least seem to) and to capture the paradoxes of the psyche of 20th century America. I really love Part IV of the collection.
James
I've been told I'll appreciate this book more once I'm 40. Maybe so. I see it as a genre-defining work, but not really as pleasure reading, though I enjoyed parts of the prose piece and most of the "Life Studies" poems.
Charles Seluzicki
Revisiting a revolutionary book which seems more eccentric and brilliant with time-
Alec Sieber
Lowell's prose is solid and his poetry is delightful, even sublime.
Mikael
the older i agree with harold the more i hes obtuse they are
Phyllis
Mar 02, 2009 Phyllis marked it as to-read
Shelves: poetry
said to be the first book of confessional poetry.
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Robert Lowell, born Robert Traill Spence Lowell, IV, was an American poet whose works, confessional in nature, engaged with the questions of history and probed the dark recesses of the self. He is generally considered to be among the greatest American poets of the twentieth century.

His first and second books, Land of Unlikeness (1944) and Lord Weary's Castle (for which he received a Pulitzer Prize...more
More about Robert Lowell...
Collected Poems Life Studies and For the Union Dead Selected Poems Imitations For the Union Dead

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“We are all old-timers,
each of us holds a locked razor.”
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