Marguerite Young, author of that immense dreamscape of a novel, Miss Macintosh, My Darling (1965), worked on Harp Song for a Radical for nearly thirty years, leaving it unfinished at the time of her death in 1995. The book purports to be a biography of the great American Socialist leader Eugene Debs (1855-1926). But in fact Harp Song for a Radical is like no other work of history or biography ever written. Though it does recount certain episodes from Debs' early life, its delirious digressions range freely across the entire length and breadth of nineteenth-century America and Europe. Young touches on matters as diverse as the great American railway strike of 1877, the poetic careers of Heinrich Heine and of James Whitcomb Riley, Joseph Smith's discovery of the Book of Mormon, and the workings of the Russian secret police under Czar Nicholas I. What unifies the book is two things. First, there is Young's grand epic vision of the utopian quest for justice, and class struggle between workers and capitalists, as the animating leitmotif of the entire nineteenth century. Second, there is Young's prodigious prose style. Her lush, page-long sentences, filled with expansive pleonasms, gorgeous metaphors, and mind-boggling associative leaps, and that sometimes ride roughshod over the rules of syntax, weave a dense, miraculous tapestry that time and again leaves me breathless. Harp Song for a Radical is an excessive book in every imaginable sense. It is a perfect antidote for our current age of diminished political and poetical expectations.