Part of the Jewish Encounter series
Poet, warrior, and king, David has loomed large in myth and legend through the centuries, and he continues to haunt our collective imagination, his flaws and inconsistencies making him the most approachable of biblical heroes. Robert Pinsky, former poet laureate of the United States, plumbs the depths of David’s life: his triumphs and his failures, his charm and his cruelty, his divine destiny and his human humiliations. Drawing on the biblical chronicle of David’s life as well as on the later commentaries and the Psalms—traditionally considered to be David’s own words—Pinsky teases apart the many strands of David’s story and reweaves them into a glorious narrative.
Under the clarifying and captivating light of Pinsky’s erudition and imagination, and his mastery of image and expression, King David—both the man and the idea of the man—is brought brilliantly to life.
About the Author
Robert Pinsky was born on October 20, 1940 in Long Branch, New Jersey. He received a B.A. from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and earned both an M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from Stanford University, where he was a Stegner Fellow in creative writing, and studied under the poet and critic Yvor Winters .
He is the author of several collections of poetry, most recently Gulf Music: Poems; Jersey Rain (2000); The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1966-1996 (1996), which received the 1997 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize and was a Pulitzer Prize nominee; The Want Bone (1990); History of My Heart (1984); An Explanation of America (1980); and Sadness and Happiness (1975).
He is also the author of several prose titles, including The Life of David; Democracy, Culture, and the Voice of Poetry (2002); The Sounds of Poetry (1998), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Poetry and the World (1988); and The Situation of Poetry (1977). In 1985 he also released a computerized novel, Mindwheel.
Pinsky has published two acclaimed works of traslation: The Inferno of Dante (1994), which was a Book-of-the-Month-Club Editor's Choice, and received both the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award ; and The Separate Notebooks by Czeslaw Milosz (with Renata Gorczynski and Robert Hass ).
About his work, the poet Louise Gluck has said, "Robert Pinsky has what I think Shakespeare must have had: dexterity combined with worldliness, the magician's dazzling quickness fused with subtle intelligence, a taste for tasks and assignments to which he devises ingenious solutions."
From 1997 to 2000, he served as the United States Poet Laureate and Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. During that time, he founded the Favorite Poem Project, a program dedicated to celebrating, documenting and encouraging poetry's role in Americans' lives.
In 1999, he co-edited Americans' Favorite Poems: The Favorite Poem Project Anthology with Maggie Dietz. Other anthologies he has edited include An Invitation to Poetry (W. W. Norton & Company, 2004); Poems to Read (2002); and Handbook of Heartbreak (1998).
His honors include an American Academy of Arts and Letters award, both the William Carlos Williams Award and the Shelley Memorial prize from the Poetry Society of America, the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, and a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship. He is currently poetry editor of the weekly Internet magazine Slate .
Pinsky has taught at both Wellesley College and the University of California, Berkeley, and currently teaches in the graduate writing program at Boston University. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
"Episode by episode, Pinsky braids narrative together with literary interpretation and psychological conjecture, drawing out patterns of correspondence, filling gaps in the record with acutely engaged speculation. Bypassing the accretions of thirty centuries of piety and veneration, peering behind the Bible's spare record of action and speech, Pinsky seeks to discern the feelings and intentions of the living person from whom the myth of David sprang."
--William Deresiewicz, The New York Times Book Review
"A tour de force of literary imagination, strengthened with the author's wisdom and compassion. A truly amazing book."
--Ha Jin, author of Waiting
"A note-perfect performance, with all the generosity, understatement, and burnished eloquence familiar to readers of Pinsky's poems, translations, and essays. Only a true poet would be fit to tackle a subject of such centrality and deep fascination. Pinsky guides us through David's art and life in a luminous, moving, and compulsively readable narrative,"
--Tony Kushner, author of Angels in America
"Pinsky's unique blend of imagination, intellect, and narrative cunning has enabled him to conjure an unforgettable portrait. He has at once unraveled and created a figure of mythic power. A brilliant achievement."
--Stephen Greenblatt, author of Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare