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Write a customer review. Is this feature helpful? Thank you for your feedback. Read reviews that mention poems town lives poetry classic american school edition collection dead literature today illinois death human class poem college verse grave. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. This review I write has nothing to do with the actual text of Spoon River. I studied Spoon River in college and the book has very special meaning to me. I had originally purchased the Signet Classics version of the book, but it has been damaged in my book bag and the pages are wrinkly and hard to manage, so I thought I'd buy the collection again, this time the Dover Thrift edition.

Review the back of Dover Thrifts edition, and it says it has poems, but review the wikipedia entry, and it says there are poems in Spoon River. Reading further on Wikipedia, I learned that Masters added 35 new poems in the edition of the Anthology, but Dover Thrift is selling the edition Unabridged. Some of the poems I really enjoyed are not present in the Dover Thrift edition, and it's a real shame. I'm going to have to consider purchasing again from a different publisher now. Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase. My family all are from Lewistown, Illinois--most probably the context for much of the Anthology, and all of my family are buried in Oak Hill Cemetery my name is on my parents' tombstone.

WE FOUND THE LOST RIVER!!! (Subnautica #12)

My grandfather came to visit me years ago and was recounting stories from his past. I asked him if he'd read the Anthology. He hadn't but promptly read it and made marginal notes in my copy. He recognized many of the real-life characters and events. Now many of the graves of those "real life" characters are identified with markers. I just returned last month from a visit to Petersburg and the boyhood home of ELM, as well of the cemetery where he, his family, and other "characters" are buried.

Interestingly enough, my grandmother and aunt took me to the same cemetery in the 50's, and the memory stuck--most probably because of Anne Rutledge.

Richmond Shreve (Author of Lost River Anthology)

You can't grow up in Illinois without Abraham Lincoln being your hero. After visiting the boyhood home and the cemetery, I went on to Lewistown to spend most of the day photographing the graves of ELM's characters as well as those of my family, their friends, and others. How often does one find a literary work that is so grounded no pun intended in one's own past?

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Book review: Lost River Anthology

I downloaded two versions of this anthology. It was quite distracting. This one, on the other hand, has the text complete and viewable on each page at the print size I used. It also has great introductory material so you can understand what makes this book special. It is a real American classic. I read this many years ago in a high school lit class. I was inspired to reread it before a trip to the rural county where I was born, since we were visiting mainly the cemetery where many generations of my parents' families were buried.

It was this edition of the book, which made real for me the angst of dreams trampled, hardships endured, all hidden from prying eyes. I won't critique the writing of Edgar Lee Masters. Others do that very well. Does his work apply to us today? I felt such a kinship with this place. This place is more a part of me than I realized. Perhaps the rather small volume will allow you to enter fully into such an experience as well. When you write about a book that's gone through dozens of editions, what should you be focusing on - the content or the presentation?

I got the Touchstone edition of Spoon River Anthology because it contains the introduction May Swenson wrote back in , which has been mentioned in a number of articles. I couldn't find it online so I got the book. I loved Under Milk Wood when I listened to a recording of it a few decades ago. I first became aware of Masters 40 years ago.

Translations of about half of the poems that comprise SRA came out in Poland, where I lived, and I bought and read the little volume. I liked some of it enough to keep the book and eventually bring it with me to NY, where I've lived for the last 30 years. But it was only 4 months ago that I opened it again and reread the poems I'd marked all those years earlier as being to my liking.

And then I decided to read the whole book in English and study its historical and cultural context. Regardless of the merits of this edition or that, what is it about Masters that makes him interesting? Few people seem to know anything about him anymore. Some vaguely remember the words "Spoon River Anthology" just as most people remember the words "I have a dream" without knowing much about the person who said them.

I am not a poetry 'maven' and I am not an American. I write song lyrics for only one performer back home, which has changed so much that I don't really recognize it on my infrequent visits. I'm not sure I understand Americans even though I've lived here for decades - and not in some Polish ghetto. My life is an American life, and Masters was kind of similar to me. His life was very American. His consciousness was something else.

We take a lot at face value. We accept the language and the frame of reference the media impose on us. Masters wasn't like that. He fiercely rejected much of the rhetoric and mores of his time. He was more educated than most, and the education was the result of his own need to know, not of his pursuit of position what he called "the wondrous cheese" in one poem. Being individualistic or contrary is not what makes Masters so interesting; he was not unique in that.

And I'm not saying he will give you all the perspective you'll need should you decide that today's rhetoric doesn't quite explain the world to you. But he will be one very alternative voice, one that helps understand how relative the meaning of certain words is. It can be enlightening to realize that words we hold dear and think we understand perfectly well weren't always defined as they are today, that they can be made to mean almost anything with enough repetition and amplification.

For example, to Masters being democratic meant being against Lincoln - and not at all simply because Lincoln was what was then known as a Republican. Incidentally, Masters didn't like John Brown either. He didn't think "Brown was the sort of man who should be celebrated. Masters was a pamphleteer as much as he was a poet - or more so. I think he was politically confused but I'm not looking for a prophet. I'm interested in alternative perspectives, and Masters will give you one.

So, of course, could some other pamphleteers, whose politics might be easier to define.

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And herein lies an interesting paradox. Somebody like an Emma Goldman was many times clearer about how society works and how justice might prevail. Masters was 'for the people;' in his law practice he was often the advocate of labor. At the same time he was a typical 21st-century American liberal, who's for the people and justice - so long as there's no 'strife. That's the power of poetry written with conviction, even if the conviction is misguided. So was Masters a great poet? Most commentators seem to feel that SRA was the only one of his 50 books that represented a literary accomplishment.

Let's say that's true. So what was it about SRA that made it so special? Three things, I think. No matter how much of himself he put into most of these characters, he was speaking as them, which forced him to curb his preaching and lecturing urges. Masters is seldom original when he writes in regular forms.

It seems as though some obscure instinct of relation set his mind echoing with old tunes, old words, old pictures," wrote Amy Lowell. When his friend and publisher Reedy practically forced him to abandon that style, Masters was freed to explore other themes and real emotions of actual people he knew. SRA is not a collection of epitaphs.

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It's a collection of utterances from people who are already dead, so they can 'tell it like it is' or was. These are dramatic monologues, where two rules seem to dominate: You can't not quote one poem in this context: I pulled the wires with judge and jury, And the upper courts, to beat the claims Of the crippled, the widow and orphan, And made a fortune thereat.

The bar association sang my praises In a high-flown resolution. And the floral tributes were many-- But the rats devoured my heart And a snake made a nest in my skull! It was this edition of the book, which made real for me the angst of dreams trampled, hardships endured, all hidden from prying eyes. I won't critique the writing of Edgar Lee Masters. Others do that very well. Does his work apply to us today? I felt such a kinship with this place.

This place is more a part of me than I realized. Perhaps the rather small volume will allow you to enter fully into such an experience as well. When you write about a book that's gone through dozens of editions, what should you be focusing on - the content or the presentation? I got the Touchstone edition of Spoon River Anthology because it contains the introduction May Swenson wrote back in , which has been mentioned in a number of articles.

I couldn't find it online so I got the book. I loved Under Milk Wood when I listened to a recording of it a few decades ago. I first became aware of Masters 40 years ago. Translations of about half of the poems that comprise SRA came out in Poland, where I lived, and I bought and read the little volume. I liked some of it enough to keep the book and eventually bring it with me to NY, where I've lived for the last 30 years.

But it was only 4 months ago that I opened it again and reread the poems I'd marked all those years earlier as being to my liking. And then I decided to read the whole book in English and study its historical and cultural context. Regardless of the merits of this edition or that, what is it about Masters that makes him interesting? Few people seem to know anything about him anymore. Some vaguely remember the words "Spoon River Anthology" just as most people remember the words "I have a dream" without knowing much about the person who said them.

I am not a poetry 'maven' and I am not an American. I write song lyrics for only one performer back home, which has changed so much that I don't really recognize it on my infrequent visits. I'm not sure I understand Americans even though I've lived here for decades - and not in some Polish ghetto. My life is an American life, and Masters was kind of similar to me. His life was very American. His consciousness was something else.

We take a lot at face value. We accept the language and the frame of reference the media impose on us. Masters wasn't like that. He fiercely rejected much of the rhetoric and mores of his time. He was more educated than most, and the education was the result of his own need to know, not of his pursuit of position what he called "the wondrous cheese" in one poem.

Being individualistic or contrary is not what makes Masters so interesting; he was not unique in that. And I'm not saying he will give you all the perspective you'll need should you decide that today's rhetoric doesn't quite explain the world to you. But he will be one very alternative voice, one that helps understand how relative the meaning of certain words is. It can be enlightening to realize that words we hold dear and think we understand perfectly well weren't always defined as they are today, that they can be made to mean almost anything with enough repetition and amplification.

For example, to Masters being democratic meant being against Lincoln - and not at all simply because Lincoln was what was then known as a Republican. Incidentally, Masters didn't like John Brown either. He didn't think "Brown was the sort of man who should be celebrated. Masters was a pamphleteer as much as he was a poet - or more so. I think he was politically confused but I'm not looking for a prophet.

I'm interested in alternative perspectives, and Masters will give you one. So, of course, could some other pamphleteers, whose politics might be easier to define. And herein lies an interesting paradox. Somebody like an Emma Goldman was many times clearer about how society works and how justice might prevail. Masters was 'for the people;' in his law practice he was often the advocate of labor. At the same time he was a typical 21st-century American liberal, who's for the people and justice - so long as there's no 'strife.

That's the power of poetry written with conviction, even if the conviction is misguided. So was Masters a great poet? Most commentators seem to feel that SRA was the only one of his 50 books that represented a literary accomplishment. Let's say that's true. So what was it about SRA that made it so special? Three things, I think. No matter how much of himself he put into most of these characters, he was speaking as them, which forced him to curb his preaching and lecturing urges. Masters is seldom original when he writes in regular forms. It seems as though some obscure instinct of relation set his mind echoing with old tunes, old words, old pictures," wrote Amy Lowell.

When his friend and publisher Reedy practically forced him to abandon that style, Masters was freed to explore other themes and real emotions of actual people he knew. SRA is not a collection of epitaphs. It's a collection of utterances from people who are already dead, so they can 'tell it like it is' or was.

These are dramatic monologues, where two rules seem to dominate: You can't not quote one poem in this context: I pulled the wires with judge and jury, And the upper courts, to beat the claims Of the crippled, the widow and orphan, And made a fortune thereat. The bar association sang my praises In a high-flown resolution. And the floral tributes were many-- But the rats devoured my heart And a snake made a nest in my skull!

Those two lines at the end, that two-fisted punch - in my book it doesn't get much better. And SRA has a lot of those punch lines. If you respond to art based on its merit and not political labels associated with its creator, they may. You won't necessarily agree with Masters; he is dated. But he will get you to think and he'll do it with a power that you won't find in many other places. So did the book 'meet my expectations'? I bought it for May Swenson's page intro and I got that. The introduction had some insights and some errors.

Hod Putt didn't lie side by side with his victim. That's a venial mistake. Saying 'veniality' when you mean 'venality' "political swindling, graft, veniality, enforced poverty" is perhaps less so. Was Ida Chicken vain and silly, as Swenson suggests? A Study Guide to SRA published by a theater in Alabama says on page 4 that Masters died in ; meanwhile on page 2 there's a picture of his tombstone that clearly says The author of The Spoon River Metblog has written a really interesting "modern adaptation of Spoon River Anthology" and, much to his credit, apparently asked some real authorities for help in this undertaking - and then placed them in the wrong university.

Minor stuff, forgivable sloppiness. I've read a lot of Masters scholarship in the last 4 months, so to me Swenson was simply one of the voices. So I'm glad I've read her piece, but it wasn't the best writing on the subject. Masters and his vision of life - specifically as presented in SRA - is another matter altogether. Check the Anthology out. If you lend it a sympathetic ear, it will reward you richly. In spite of himself and his ideas about good poetry, Masters accidentally wrote a hit book when his friend and editor refused to print his pseudoclassical fluff and told him to "for God's sake, lay off.

If that were all, we wouldn't be talking about the Anthology. Compared with today's standards, the sex and the corruption were puny, timid. Australian writer Margaret Rees has explained why we're still talking: The songs echo plaintively in the memory for a long while. Masters created Spoon River and its characters out of the situations and people he knew.

But it was not a small Illinois community he set out to depict. As commentators have pointed out many times - repeating what Masters himself had said - Spoon River is a microcosm through which we are presented with the author's vision of how the world works.

An unsigned New York Times review from the year of the publication of the first, incomplete, version of the Anthology explains why the village setting is particularly effective and well-suited to such an undertaking: In the city the weak and the degenerate tend to segregate: In the small community the exact opposite obtains; the individual who falls below the community standard or departs from its regularity, stands out with uncompromising distinctness.

To reiterate one of my earlier points, the same review goes on to say: Masters's psychology, however, the novel point is that the subject confesses trom the immunity of the grave. The shades of Spoon River rehearse their crimes, sadden us with their little, sordid, futile lives, and now and again hearten us with their dreams and victories. They keep nothing back, not even the aspiration not bold enough to face a philistine world. They reply to each other from the grave, refuting accusations, gibing at hypocrisies, contrasting points of view with delightful humor, satire, and irony.

The cadences are monotonous and closer to prose than to song. See all reviews. See all customer images. Most recent customer reviews. Published 1 month ago. Published 2 months ago. Published 4 months ago. Published 5 months ago. Published 6 months ago. Published 7 months ago.