The Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns has been idolized and eulogized. He has been sainted, painted, sculpted, tormented, and toasted. Best known for his poem “Auld Lang Syne,” Burns is regarded as the patron saint of the heartsore and the hungover. But beneath his cult following and the patriotic yawps, there is the writing itself, which is among the purest of any age. In A Night Out with Robert Burns novelist and Scottish essayist Andrew O’Hagan joins company with the poet who has mattered most to him throughout his own writing career. Organizing the poems into four overlapping categories, O’Hagan offers fragments and distilled commentary of his own, forming an ongoing dialogue between O’Hagan and the bard himself. The effect is explosive, giving us Robert Burns at his very best—a political Burns, a satirical Burns, a poet who can name hypocrisy and intolerance while always aiming directly at the human heart.
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