Form and Content
Natalie S. Bober’s A Restless Spirit: The Story of Robert Frost examines the poet’s life in chronological order. From Frost’s birth in San Francisco, California, on March 26, 1874, to his death in Boston, Massachusetts, on January 29, 1963, the story focuses on family matters and poetry—Frost’s two nearly exclusive and lifelong concerns; although the two were often in conflict, the poetry was always Frost’s primary passion. The story is told in sixteen chapters, each headed by a phrase or line from a poem selected for its relevance to that period of Frost’s life and later quoted in the chapter along with other relevant poems and letters. In the acknowledgments, Bober reveals a special indebtedness to Lesley Frost, the poet’s eldest daughter, and to Robin Hudnut, one of Frost’s granddaughters, who enlisted “her entire family to read and reread and correct the manuscript.” This indebtedness probably accounts for the richness of intimate detail in the book but perhaps also accounts for the somewhat sentimentalized treatment of the poet’s life. Hudnut also contributes a striking introduction that is much more than a publisher’s formality. Rounding out the textual apparatus is a group of eight black-and-white photographs sandwiched into the middle of the text, a guide to quoted materials, a bibliography, a poetry index, and a subject index.
Frost’s childhood and adolescence were not particularly happy, and there is an indication of this fact in Bober’s early chapters, though the death of Frost’s alcoholic father...
(The entire section is 638 words.)