Savage Beauty

Savage Beauty

The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay

Book - 2002
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Thomas Hardy once said that America had two great attractions: the skyscraper and the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay. The most famous poet of the Jazz Age, Millay captivated the nation: She smoked in public, took many lovers (men and women, single and married), flouted convention sensationally, and became the embodiment of the New Woman.

Thirty years after her landmark biography of Zelda Fitzgerald, Nancy Milford returns with an iconic portrait of this passionate, fearless woman who obsessed America even as she tormented herself. Chosen by USA Today as one of the top ten books of the year, Savage Beauty is a triumph in the art of biography. Millay was an American original--one of those rare characters, like Sylvia Plath and Ernest Hemingway, whose lives were even more dramatic than their art.
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2002, c2001.
Edition: Random House Trade Paperback ed.
ISBN: 9780375760815
Branch Call Number: 811.52 MIL
Characteristics: xviii, 550 p. : ill. ; 21 cm.


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Apr 18, 2018

The complex life of Edna St. Vincent Millay, told through well-researched letters and journals from her estate. The eldest of 3 daughters who lived in extreme poverty with their divorced mother in Rockland Maine, Edna honed her poetry writing at Camden High School. Her controversial fourth place prize in a Lyric competition for "Renascence" brought notoriety and the attention of a wealthy arts patron who paid for her matriculation at Vassar. Millay's vast talent, and bohemian reputation brought her meteoric fame. She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1923, the third woman to do so. Living a life of passion and extremes' Millay died in her early 50's. As a school girl (and fellow Down Easter) I learned the G-rated
version of Millay's life in school. Interesting to learn the rest of the story.

Apr 27, 2017

I suppose Millay's poetry is considered old-fashioned today because it's:
a. Lyrical and humanistic b. Comprehensible and c. Mostly metric
All of which makes it enjoyable for me (and catalogues me as hopelessly out of date). Like so many of my own (and a previous) generation, she had me at "My candle burns at both ends...."
But this remarkably authentic biography goes far beyond exposing Vincent the girl poet and popular sensation of her day. Milford explores the passionate, driven, rebellious woman in all her guises.

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