Kay Redfield Jamison

discusses

Robert Lowell, Setting the River on Fire:
A Study of Genius, Mania, and Character

This event includes a book signing

Date

Mar
9
Thursday
March 9, 2017
7:00 PM

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store and Mass Humanities welcome Johns Hopkins University professor of psychiatry KAY REDFIELD JAMISON—author of national best sellers An Unquiet Mind, Night Falls Fast, and Touched with Fire—for a discussion of her latest book, Robert Lowell, Setting the River on Fire: A Study of Genius, Mania, and Character.

About Robert Lowell, Setting the River on Fire

In this magisterial study of the relationship between illness and art, the best-selling author of An Unquiet Mind, Kay Redfield Jamison, brings an entirely fresh understanding to the work and life of Robert Lowell (1917-1977), whose intense, complex, and personal verse left a lasting mark on the English language and changed the public discourse about private matters.

In his Pulitzer Prize–winning poetry, Robert Lowell put his manic-depressive illness (now known as bipolar disorder) into the public domain, creating a language for madness that was new and arresting. As Dr. Jamison brings her expertise in mood disorders to bear on Lowell’s story, she illuminates not only the relationships among mania, depression, and creativity but also the details of Lowell’s treatment and how illness and treatment influenced the great work that he produced (and often became its subject). Lowell’s New England roots, early breakdowns, marriages to three eminent writers, friendships with other poets such as Elizabeth Bishop, his many hospitalizations, his vivid presence as both a teacher and a maker of poems—Jamison gives us the poet’s life through a lens that focuses our understanding of his intense discipline, courage, and commitment to his art. Jamison had unprecedented access to Lowell’s medical records, as well as to previously unpublished drafts and fragments of poems, and she is the first biographer to have spoken with his daughter, Harriet Lowell. With this new material and a psychologist’s deep insight, Jamison delivers a bold, sympathetic account of a poet who was—both despite and because of mental illness—a passionate, original observer of the human condition.

Praise

"Kay Jamison brings together meticulous research into the factual narrative of Lowell’s life, an immensely sophisticated ability to interpret his poetry, and a profound understanding of his mental illness and its effect on everything else about him. Written in prose that is often poetic and always acute, it is a poignant, terrifying, and thrilling examination of the complex relationship between genius and madness. It captures Lowell’s electrifying charm, his persistent elegance of thought, and the consuming chaos of his despair. It is one of the finest biographies I have read." —Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon

"An intimate, sensitive, and perceptive account of the illness from which poet Robert Lowell suffered most of his life." —Kirkus

Kay Redfield Jamison
Kay Redfield Jamison

Kay Redfield Jamison

Kay Redfield Jamison is a professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine as well as an honorary professor of English at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. She is the author of the national best sellers An Unquiet Mind, Night Falls Fast, and Touched with Fire. Dr. Jamison— he recipient of numerous national and international scientific awards—is a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellow, and has written more than one hundred scientific papers about mood disorders, creativity, and psychopharmacology. 

Photo credit: Tom Traill

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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Co-Sponsored by Mass Humanities

Mass Humanities

Mass Humanities conducts and supports programs that use history, literature, philosophy, and the other humanities disciplines to enhance and improve civic life in Massachusetts. Learn more at masshumanities.org.

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Featured event books will be for sale at the event for 20% off. Thank you for supporting this author series with your purchases.
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