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The Winner of Sorrow (Coleman Dowell Irish Literature)by Brian Lynch
Synopses & Reviews
"Irish poet and filmmaker Lynch's first novel is an engaging fictional account of the life of the little-remembered 18th-century English poet William Cowper. Told primarily in flashback, Lynch introduces Cowper as an old man, plagued by self-loathing, sickness and hallucinations. His formative years are marked by the death of his mother and early inclinations toward poetry, 'contemplating the taste of words.' Along with the major figures in Cowper's life — the charismatic Rev. John Newton, real-life author of 'Amazing Grace'; John Johnson, Cowper's young cousin; and Mary Unwin, the love of his life — Lynch also lends Dickensian detail to minor characters, using them skillfully to provide an orbiting view. Lynch takes a serial approach, managing to take readers by surprise in every short chapter, whether terrifying (as in the height of Cowper's hallucinations) or hilarious ('[p]oetry and puking were hardly ideal companions'). This curious novel captures the sad poet from all angles, reimagining his life in a gracefully sprawling epic." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Afictional imagining of the gentle but troubled zealot William Cowper--best known as a precursor to Romantics such as Wordsworth and Burns--Brian Lynch's The Winner of Sorrow brings to life the mind and times of an eighteenth-century poet. Intense and exhilerating, this is literary fiction at its finest--the reader will be hard-pressed not to rush ahead to see what happens next. Yet you'll want to savor every word as Lynch traces Cowper's tragic descent into madness, which is presented matter-of-factly so that the novel is not sentimental but austere, not precious but serious, and yet, remarkably, lively, sensuous, and blackly comic.
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