City of Discontent: An Interpretive Biography of Vachel Lindsay

Mark Harris, Author
Mark Harris, Author Permanent Press (NY) $24.95 (424p) ISBN 978-0-933256-75-0
Reviewed on: 05/01/1990
Release date: 05/01/1990
Somewhat like Carl Sandburg's Lincoln , which, though based on enormous research, was essentially a poetic interpretation, Harris's ( Wake Up, Stupid ) account of another citizen of Springfield, Ill., is more notable for its novelistic approach and style than for its factual veracity. Originally published in 1952, this poignant, romantic biography of the poet Vachel Lindsay (1879-1931) is well worth a second chance. From early on, Lindsay was a wanderer, tramping hundreds of miles along country roads, visiting small towns, never holding a job, writing poems of uplift and defiance, and giving them, or his drawings, away on the streets, selling them for food or declaiming them on the lecture circuit. Always poor and, in later life, plagued by illness, Lindsay died at 52, leaving a lagacy of virile, jazzy poems that, although out of style with academics, continue to bring pleasure to readers. Harris's sympathetic interpretation deserves attention. (May)
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