Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Emphasizing biographies of Jewish luminaries but also including books on Jewish themes, the new Jewish Encounters series aims to satisfy the interest in popular and intelligent books on Jewish subjects. The inaugural book in this commendable venture is a well-executed biography of David, written by Pinsky, former poet laureate of the United States. His poetic language is singularly appropriate for recounting the life of the king who is traditionally accepted as the author of the poetic psalms, some of which are included in the narrative. Pinsky's broad scope is reflected in his references to Greek literature, Shakespeare, Dante, Simone Weil, Talmudists and Robert Frost, among others. He acknowledges his indebtedness to Robert Alter, whose definitive book The David Story appeared in 1999, but fails to mention recent biographies by Steven McKenzie, Baruch Halpern and Gary Greenberg. His primary sources are the actual biblical texts that recount David's life. Pinsky dispels the conventional image of David as a simple shepherd who slew Goliath and became Israel's greatest king, depicting him realistically with all his failings as an adulterer, assassin and predator. Pinsky also portrays David's stellar achievements, presenting him as a complex character who deserves to be seen in shades of gray. (Sept. 20)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A DIFFERENT WAY OF LOOKING AT HERITAGE: For the first time in a boxed set, a perfect addition to your familys library, are 3 of the remarkable titles in the Jewish Encounters series: Betraying Spinoza
, and The Life of David
. Discover 3,000 years of Jewish life, history and culture with the series that The Washington
Post calls “lively and distinguished”.
The critically acclaimed Jewish Encounters series brings together writers of the first rank with people, ideas and events from the Jewish past.
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 Davids life: his triumphs and his failures, his charm and his cruelty, his divine destiny and his human humiliations. Drawing on the biblical chronicle of Davids life as well as on the later commentaries and the Psalms——traditionally considered to be Davids own words——Pinsky teases apart the many strands of Davids story and reweaves them into a glorious narrative.
Under the clarifying and captivating light of Pinskys 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
"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
From the Trade Paperback edition.