Books: Wild Man

ROBERT LOWELL by Ian Hamilton Random House; 527pages; $19.95

To those who never saw Robert Lowell on the occasions when he was out of his mind, the best poet of his generation seemed almost too proper a Bostonian. Students in his classroom at Boston University during the '50s (including Sylvia Plath) found him "diffident" and "reserved." His "mild, myopic manner" hardly placed him in the company of the wild men of letters, like his friends Delmore Schwartz and John Berryman. But Lowell, as the English poet-critic Ian Hamilton reveals in this melancholy biography,...

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