The Book of Samuel

Trade Paper – $21.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-2538-4

E-book – $18.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-6446-8
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Publication Date
March 2009
Page Count
288 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

The Book of Samuel

Essays on Poetry and Imagination

Crisis, breakdown, rejuvenation: this is the territory of poetry that Rudman takes readers into with this set of essays. Constructed as a series of character studies, the essays are rooted in autobiographical material with biographical counterpoints, tying the poets distinctly to places. Even as they are placed, however, they are displaced: Rudman's subjects, from D.H. Lawrence to Czeslaw Milosz to T. S. Eliot, are almost all exiles, either geographically or within themselves. This exile spins anger into energy, transmuting emotion into imagination the same way that Passaic Falls, known to William Carlos Williams, turns water into power. The mosaic style of the essays touches on nerve after nerve, avoiding the snags of academic jargon to ease towards an illuminating truth about the artists' shifting work and worlds. Some of the Samuels--Beckett and Fuller--were able to navigate these shifts, while others--Coleridge and Johnson--are shown to be less able to transmute their energy into motion.

About the Author

Mark Rudman is an adjunct professor of English at New York University and the editor in chief of Pequod. His poetry collections include The Couple, The Millennium Hotel, and Sundays on the Phone. He is the author of several books, including Realm of Unknowing: Meditations on Art, Suicide, and Other Transitions. The American Poetry Review, the Atlantic Monthly, the New Republic, and the New Yorker have all featured his work. He lives in New York City.


"[A] powerful and idiosyncratic collection of essays... It will affect the critical discourse of poetry in a way that may seem slow at first but will continue and endure. This is not the sort of book that gets published every year or even every decade. "--Luc Sante, author of The Factory of Facts

"Trenchant, passionate, deeply knowledgeable, and often funny, The Book of Samuel gives us literature not as cultural artifact but as lived experience. Mark Rudman's prose has an urgency and acumen thta one finds in only the very best essays."

—Siri Hustvedt

"We could say of Mark Rudman what he says of D. H. Lawrence: 'He isn't so much part of the present as he is part of the instantaneous.' Urgent, quicksilver, unpredictable, Rudman's essays pay homage to his masters Lawrence, Williams, Lowry, and move, as they move, in swoops, feints, and lunges toward revelation." 

—Rosanna Warren