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Poet, warrior, and king; sweet singer of Israel and adulterous lover of Batsheva; devoted friend of Jonathan and wily opponent of Saul, the complex character of King David looms large in our contemporary minds as it has in myth and legend for centuries. “He must have actually existed, and most of it must be true," one commentator wrote, “because no people would deliberately invent a national hero so deeply flawed.” And the poet Robert Pinsky fearlessly plumbs the depths of the life of David, his triumphs and failures, his charm and his cruelty, his divine destiny and his human humiliations.
Drawing on the Biblical record of David’s life, as well as on the later commentaries and on the Psalms, considered traditionally to be David’s own words, Pinsky teases apart the many strands of David’s story to reweave them together into a glorious narrative of a character whose story is created equally by God’s intervention, his own actions, and the judgment of history. For even within the Biblical text, the influence of history on David is clear, his political maneuvers guided by his sense of his own legacy and destiny, his personal life to the battleground between his kingship and his heart.
From David’s poetry and his own poetic prose Robert Pinsky has drawn a portrait of David, the man and the idea, that illuminates every contour of his remarkable life.
“Robert Pinsky’s unique blend of imagination, intellect, and narrative cunning has enabled him to conjure up an unforgettable portrait of King David. Pinsky’s David is a shape-shifting trickster, a seductive but treacherous lover, a God-haunted visionary, a bloodstained warrior, a crafty, murderous politician with the soul of a great poet. Burrowing into the biblical texts, brooding on commentaries and legends, leaping forward into our own world, Pinsky has at once unraveled and created a figure of mythic power. A brilliant achievement.” —Stephen Greenblatt, Harvard University, author of Will In The World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare