Robert Lowell (1917-1977)

A selective list of literary criticism for Robert Lowell, favoring signed articles by recognized scholars and articles published in peer-reviewed sources


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introduction & biography

"Robert Lowell." A substantial, encyclopedia-type introduction to Robert Lowell, and selections from his poetry, from the Poetry Foundation.

Vendler, Helen. "Robert Lowell." Audio file of a lecture delivered by Professor Vendler at the Art Institute of Chicago, 22 Oct. 2009. Poetry Foundation.

"Robert Lowell." Excerpts from reputable critical articles on the following poems: Man and Wife, Memories of West Street and Lepke, Skunk Hour, Inauguration Day, A Mad Negro Soldier Confined at Munich, Commander Lowell, For the Union Dead, The Mouth of the Hudson, July in Washington, The March I, The March II, Central Park. Includes a biography of Robert Lowell. Modern American Poetry, U of Illinois. Eds. Michael Thurston and Cary Nelson.

"Robert Lowell." A very short introduction to Lowell. Also "A Brief Guide to Confessional Poetry," with links to related poets, and "Life Studies," a brief summary of modern American poetry that discusses Lowell's importance. Academy of American Poets.

Wagner-Martin, Linda, ed. "Robert Traill Spence Lowell, Jr." Some suggestions for teaching Robert Lowell, from educational publisher Heath.

"Robert Lowell." An overview of Lowell, with links to several reviews of his books, from the U.K. Guardian.

"'A Life's Study': Why Robert Lowell is America's most important career poet." By A.O. Scott in Slate, 20 June 2003.

Axelrod, Stephen. "Robert Lowell." An introduction to Lowell, from a database that provides signed literary criticism by experts in their field, and is available to individuals for a reasonably-priced subscription. Literary Encyclopedia. 30 March 2001 [subscription service].

"Robert Lowell." An introduction to Lowell from his publisher, Random House.


literary criticism

Falck, Colin. "Overtrained for Poetry: Recent Books by Robert Lowell." Poetry Nation 2 (1974).

Kirsch, Adam. "Reconsiderations: 'Life Studies' by Robert Lowell." On Lowell and confessional poetry. NY Sun, 18 June 2008.

Longenbach, James. "The Unfinishable Robert Lowell." Longenbach reviews Lowell's Collected Poems, edited by Frank Bidart and David Gewanter (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). Boston Review 28 (Summer 2003).

Mariani, Paul. A review of Mariani's Lost Puritan: A Life Of Robert Lowell (Norton). Reviewed by Don Share in Boston Review Oct/Nov 1994.

Smith, Hallie. "Corpse-Keepers" and "Blind Musicians": The Ethics of American Poetic Translation in the Late Twentieth Century. Working Papers on the Web 12 (2009) [and Lyn Hejinian, translation, Russian poetry].

Williamson, Alan. A review of Williamson's Pity the Monsters: The Political Vision of Robert Lowell (Yale, 1975). Says reviewer James Atlas, "Pity the Monsters is a work of original, imaginative clarification, full of brilliant argument and dense with intuition." Poetry Nation 5 (1975).


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