Robert Frost:
 
The People, Places, and Stories Behind His New England Poetry
 
 
by Lea Newman

Each great poet and novelist slowly accumulates an interpretive and biographical literature, called by some an "industry" of that individual. Most of these tomes are written by academics for fellow academics and labeled as literary criticism. Few succeed in attracting what William Pritchard recently called "that mythical beast, the General Reader."

Lea Newman's recently published Robert Frost: The People, Places, and Stories Behind his New England Poetry, is a magnificent exception to the above generalities. Frost's poetry has always attracted a wide general audience, drawn to his plain spoken language of complex emotional themes with enough ambiguity to make his readers stop and contemplate the several possible meanings of each poem. His poems are also deeply personal, and for those interested in a deeper understanding much effort is required to seek out additional information from a wide variety of sources.

Newman has assembled in beautifully written, exceptionally clear essays the necessary biographical information and later insights by Frost and colleagues that give an added dimension to his 36 early poems not seen elsewhere, except in cursory form by Jeffrey Cramer (Robert Frost Among His Poems: A Literary Companion to the Poet's Own Biographical Contexts and Associations. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 1996).