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Robert Duncan, the Ambassador from Venus [electronic resource] : a biography /
Lisa Jarnot.
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, 2012.
description
xxviii, 526 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
9780520234161 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
More Details
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, 2012.
isbn
9780520234161 (cloth : alk. paper)
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
catalogue key
8846230
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
National Book Critics Circle Awards, USA, 2012 : Nominated
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"This is a book of wonders, beautifully written and brilliantly researched. Lisa Jarnot offers a work of devotion to the truth and spirit of Robert Duncan's life and art, the result of twenty years of study and reflection. A great story as well as a rigorous exploration of the poet's art of the imagination, it will pull readers back into Duncan's poetry at the same time that it recounts his rich, adventurous, and always creative life."--Robert Adamson, author of The Goldfinches of Baghdad . "Lisa Jarnot's biography of Robert Duncan represents an essential contribution to our understanding of this complex, inspirited man, his life and art, and the many circles in which he moved through the years. It is one of those rare works that melds scholarly diligence with poetic comprehension."--Michael Palmer, author of Thread . "Robert Duncan was a poet of enormous means and complexity, one of the last to pursue a truly cosmological poetics. In that pursuit he was a poet (even a great poet), who created - like Whitman before him - his own life with all its openings & pitfalls as beyond all else a life-of-poetry. Lisa Jarnot's biography now gives us a first, richly detailed depiction of that life, a powerful and necessary complement to Duncan's poetry itself. A product of the century behind us, it offers up a lasting legacy for the century to come."--Jerome Rothenberg, author of Technicians of the Sacred .
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2013-02-01:
An important figure in both the San Francisco Poetry Renaissance and the Black Mountain School, Robert Duncan (1919-88) was a major mid-20th-century American poet, and Jarnot's biography immediately displaces Ekbert Faas's Young Robert Duncan (1983), its only competitor. Jarnot (a poet and independent scholar) has done her homework, and she gives readers an exhaustive, meticulously detailed account of Duncan's life, down to the last lecture tour, poetry reading, and gallery visit, including the people he stayed with on each tour and his dinner companions. One might wish for more critical attention to the poems and essays, but the author's focus is the life, not the work, and one gets good accounts of Duncan's complicated relationships with Jack Spicer and Denise Levertov, with his adoptive parents' esoteric spiritualism, and with gay politics (beginning with his 1944 essay "The Homosexual in Society"). Jarnot's biography will complement A Poet's Mind: Collected Interviews with Robert Duncan, 1960-1985, ed. by Christopher Wagstaff (2012); Michael Rumaker's memoir Robert Duncan in San Francisco (1996); and Duncan's own The H. D. Book (posthumously published in 2011). Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers. G. Grieve-Carlson Lebanon Valley College
Reviews
Review Quotes
"A chronicle that should be utterly absorbing for anyone interested in twentieth-century American poetry."
"A chronicle that should be utterly absorbing for anyone interested in twentieth-century American poetry."-- Booklist
"A comprehensive, well-researched, and beautifully written biography. . . . Jarnot brings Duncan to life as a gay man and a brilliant poet engaged with the cultural and political issues of his time."
"A comprehensive, well-researched, and beautifully written biography. . . . Jarnot brings Duncan to life as a gay man and a brilliant poet engaged with the cultural and political issues of his time."-- Publishers Weekly
"An edifying study of a poet who did much to inspire the next generation of poets, and it is an entertaining life story. This book should be looked to as a template for other biographies of twentieth-century poets."
"An edifying study of a poet who did much to inspire the next generation of poets, and it is an entertaining life story. This book should be looked to as a template for other biographies of twentieth-century poets."-- Foreword
"For many younger readers, the members of the post-World War II 'San Francisco Renaissance,' like their cohorts among the Black Mountain poets, are little more than names. . . . Posterity winnows ruthlessly, and, rightly or not, the American poets of the 1950s, '60s and '70s who seem to be passing into the canon are largely East Coast folk. . . . This makes Lisa Jarnot's biography of Duncan all the more valuable."
"For many younger readers, the members of the post-World War II 'San Francisco Renaissance,' like their cohorts among the Black Mountain poets, are little more than names. . . . Posterity winnows ruthlessly, and, rightly or not, the American poets of the 1950s, '60s and '70s who seem to be passing into the canon are largely East Coast folk. . . . This makes Lisa Jarnot's biography of Duncan all the more valuable."-- Washington Post Book World
"In organizing a mass of previously unavailable archive material, Jarnot's study will serve as an indispensable reference textif not the first port of callfor anyone hoping to make headway through the metaphysical tangle of Duncan's oeuvre. . . . Readers of Jarnot's biography will find Duncan's life realized, at last, in all its fictive certainty."
"In organizing a mass of previously unavailable archive material, Jarnot's study will serve as an indispensable reference text--if not the first port of call--for anyone hoping to make headway through the metaphysical tangle of Duncan's oeuvre. . . . Readers of Jarnot's biography will find Duncan's life realized, at last, in all its fictive certainty."-- Times Literary Supplement (Tls)
"Jarnot has done her homework, and she gives readers an exhaustive, meticulously detailed account of Duncan's life. . . . Highly recommended."
"Jarnot's biography offers an eloquent testament to an American poet trying to be responsible to the human spirit. . . . It will compel us all to reread Duncan's poetrybreathtaking as it is."
"Jarnot's biography offers an eloquent testament to an American poet trying to be responsible to the human spirit. . . . It will compel us all to reread Duncan's poetry--breathtaking as it is."-- San Francisco Chronicle
"Lisa Jarnot's biography of Duncan should only stoke further interest in his work. She avoids the usual two pitfallsworship and apostasyby cleaving to a style so clean and free of editorializing or psychologizing that it reads like reportage. . . . The result is a book of just the facts: what, where, when and who. And yet Jarnot, a poet herself, is sensitive to the symbols and cycles that defined Duncan's imaginative life."
This item was reviewed in:
Booklist, August 2012
ForeWord Magazine, August 2012
Choice, February 2013
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
A definitive account of the life and art of Robert Duncan, one of America's great postwar poets. Jarnot takes us from Duncan's birth in California, through his childhood in an eccentrically Theosophist household, to his life in San Francisco as an openly gay man who became an inspirational figure.
Main Description
This definitive biography chronicles the life and times of the poet Robert Duncan (1919-1988), who lived and wrote at the forefront of the literary, aesthetic, social, and political movements of his time. Duncan, associated with the Black Mountain School and the San Francisco Renaissance, was, and remains, a revered international figure--both for his fascinating life and his powerful, incantatory poetry. He became the leading practitioner of nontraditional open-form verse, exemplified in his masterwork The Opening of the Field. Lisa Jarnot takes us from Duncan's birth in Oakland, California, through his childhood in an eccentrically Theosophist household, to his life in San Francisco as an openly gay man who became an inspirational figure for the many poets and painters who gathered around him. Jarnot's vivid descriptions of life on the west coast and in New York City feature luminaries such as Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, Tennessee Williams, James Baldwin, Paul Goodman, Michael McClure, H.D., William Carlos Williams, Denise Levertov, Robert Creeley, and Charles Olson. Weaving together quotations from Duncan's notebooks and interviews with those who knew him, this richly detailed work gives a brilliant account of the extraordinary life and art of one of America's great postwar poets.
Main Description
This definitive biography gives a brilliant account of the life and art of Robert Duncan (1919-1988), one of America's great postwar poets. Lisa Jarnot takes us from Duncan's birth in Oakland, California, through his childhood in an eccentrically Theosophist household, to his life in San Francisco as an openly gay man who became an inspirational figure for the many poets and painters who gathered around him. Weaving together quotations from Duncan's notebooks and interviews with those who knew him, Jarnot vividly describes his life on the West Coast and in New York City and his encounters with luminaries such as Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, Tennessee Williams, James Baldwin, Paul Goodman, Michael McClure, H.D., William Carlos Williams, Denise Levertov, Robert Creeley, and Charles Olson.
Table of Contents
Forewordp. xiii
Prefacep. xxi
Acknowledgmentsp. xxiii
Textual Notesp. xxvii
Childhood's Retreat
The Antediluvian Worldp. 3
Native Son of the Golden Westp. 6
The Architecturep. 13
A Part in the Fabulousp. 21
The Wastelandp. 26
The Fathering Dreamp. 34
Toward the Shaman
The Little Freshman Yesp. 43
A Company of Womenp. 47
The Dancep. 53
From Romance to Ritualp. 61
Queen of the Whoresp. 69
Enlistedp. 77
Marriagep. 82
Divorcep. 88
The Enamord Mage
The End of the Warp. 95
The Round Tablep. 101
The First Poetry Festivalp. 105
The Venice Poemp. 109
Indian Talesp. 115
The Song of the Borderguardp. 118
The Way to Shadow Gardenp. 124
The Workshopp. 131
Mallorcap. 135
Caesar's Gatep. 141
The Opening of the Field
The Meadowp. 149
New York Interludep. 155
The San Francisco Scenep. 160
Olson, Whitehead, and the Magic Workshopp. 165
The Maidensp. 171
Elfmerep. 175
Night Scenesp. 180
H.D.p. 185
Go Eastp. 192
Apprehensionsp. 197
The Nasty Aesthetician
The Willp. 203
The Playhousep. 209
The Political Machinep. 214
Knight Errantp. 221
The Vancouver Conferencep. 225
Bending the Bowp. 229
A Night Songp. 234
Angerp. 239
The Berkeley Conferencep. 244
The Sixtiesp. 249
Domestic Scenes
The Householdp. 261
The Summer of Lovep. 266
Days of Ragep. 274
Ground-Workp. 280
Helter Skelterp. 285
Santa Cruz Propositionsp. 290
The Torn Clothp. 296
Despair in Being Tediousp. 303
The Cult of the Godsp. 310
Elm Park Roadp. 314
Riversidep. 320
The Heart of Rimep. 327
Troubadour
An Alternate Lifep. 339
Cambridgep. 346
The Avant-Gardep. 351
Adam, Eve, and Jahwehp. 355
San Francisco s Burningp. 361
At Seap. 365
The Cherubimp. 370
Alaskap. 377
Enthralledp. 383
The Master of Rime
New Collegep. 389
Five Songsp. 394
A Paris Visitp. 399
Bardp. 404
The Baptism of the Bloodp. 410
Hekatombep. 415
The Year of Duncanp. 422
The Circulation of the Bloodp. 429
In the Darkp. 432
Notesp. 435
Works Citedp. 503
Creditsp. 511
Indexp. 513
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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