Robert Crawford --> reviewed by Barton Swaim -->

There has long been a vast gulf between the Robert Burns of popular lore—the untaught farmer’s son who penned touching love songs and a variety of quaint poems about homely things like mice—and the Burns known to scholars and biographers: the intermittently radical, psychologically unstable sexual libertine. In the preface to the 1960 edition of his work on Burns, the late David Daiches complained that “in spite of advances in scholarship and criticism, the same sentimental rubbish about Burns tends to be spouted forth each year by hundreds of Burns Night orators.” For generations, Burns scholars have scorned Henry Mackenzie’s description of Burns as a “heaven-taught ploughman.” He...

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