Monday, December 29, 2008

New On The CWL Bookshelf---The Biography of A Writer: Lincoln

Lincoln: A Biography Of A Writer, Fred Kaplan, Harper Publishing, 406pp., annotated bibliography, notes, index, $27.95.

CWL thoroughly enjoys biographies of writers when the biography is written by an historian. Stephen Oates on William Faulkner! David Reynolds on Walt Whitman! William Manchester on H. L. Mencken! And now Fred Kaplan on Lincoln! Though a professor of English, Kaplan has written on Mark Twain, Gore Vidal, Charles Dickens, Henry James and Thomas Carlyle and has treated sources even-handedly, paid attention to the main currents of the writers' eras and has no allegiance to a particular theoretical, psychological or social school of criticism.

What were the elements that shaped Lincoln's imaginative and mental disciplines? How did Lincoln develop his literary style? Lincoln's childhood contained a search for all the books he could lay his hands on. The King James Bible, Shakespeare, Bunyan, Burns, and Byron were among the classics he read as well as a fair sample of popular sentimental and political literature of the times.

Recently much has been made of Obama's study and use of Lincoln's life and works. In both Obama's autobiographies and in the Time magazine interview of 2003, he treats Lincoln was an icon, model, and teacher. From the photograph to the left, it appears that Obama's next excursion into his Lincoln studies will be Fred Kaplan's Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer. CWL is starting on his copy of the biography, which arrived on December 25th.

Top Image Source: Very Well Said

Bottom Image Source: Daylife, Photo Segment from a larger AP Photo by Charles Dharapak. Caption: President-elect Barack Obama, carrying the book "Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer" by Fred Kaplan, leaves the home of friend Penny Pritzker after having dinner in Chicago, Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008.

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