9780374531898

Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell

Bishop, Elizabeth; Lowell, Robert

ISBN 10: 0374531897 / 0-374-53189-7
ISBN 13: 9780374531898
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: 2010
Binding: Softcover
Editorial Reviews for this title:
Synopsis:
Robert Lowell once remarked in a letter to Elizabeth Bishop that “you ha[ve] always been my favorite poet and favorite friend.” The feeling was mutual. Bishop said that conversation with Lowell left her feeling “picked up again to the proper table-land of poetry,” and she once begged him, “Please never stop writing me letters—they always manage to make me feel like my higher self (I’ve been re-reading Emerson) for several days.” Neither ever stopped writing letters, from their first meeting in 1947 when both were young, newly launched poets until Lowell’s death in 1977. The substantial, revealing—and often very funny—interchange that they produced stands as a remarkable collective achievement, notable for its sustained conversational brilliance of style, its wealth of literary history, its incisive snapshots and portraits of people and places, and its delicious literary gossip, as well as for the window it opens into the unfolding human and artistic drama of two of America’s most beloved and influential poets.

Review:
"The task of assembling and editing [the letters] has been fulfilled in exemplary manner by Thomas Travisano, author of an excellent critical study of Elizabeth Bishop, and Saskia Hamilton, who three years ago admirably edited Robert Lowell's letters . . . This volume takes its place, along with the correspondence between Edmund Wilson and Vladimir Nabokov, or Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin, as consummate examples of wit, affection, and indeed--in the case of Bishop and Lowell--love."

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Book Description: FSG. 1 Paperback(s), 2008. soft. Book Condition: New. "When she met Robert Lowell in 1947 Elizabeth Bishop wrote that she "loved him at first sight." The candid, affectionate, complex, and loving friendship of the two American poets is recorded in letters written over three decades and collected in their entirety here for the first time. Beginning after publication of their first books and ending only with Lowell's death in 1977, their letters include discussions of books, articles, and the literary scene; their agreements and disagreements about T.S. Eliot, Marianne Moore, Ezra Pound, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, William Carlos Williams, Mary McCarthy, Randall Jarrell, and other writers; and their arguments about each other's work. Their observations about Brazilian and American political life are set alongside Bishop's descriptions of her years with her lover Lota de Macedo Soares on a mountainside near Rio; Bishop's wit and keen attention turn equally to soldiers and politicians, architectural projects, and toucans in rainstorms, while Lowell's sketches of his family life in New York, London, Maine, and Boston have an "eye for physical detail and feel for emotional valence [that] seem directly wired into his prose" (Publishers Weekly). The letters also record the complications of their lives—Lowell's mental illness, Bishop's struggles with alcohol, their mutually complex and sometimes tragic love affairs. In their now-celebrated correspondence, they performed best for one another as the drama of their public and private lies unfolded. "Helplessly lyrical till death did them part, Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell wrote so many wonderful letters and postcards to each other from 1947 through 1977 that it's amazing they ever found the time to publish their poetry."—Harper's "Their surviving 459 letters give us the closest view of these wounded creatures—his muscular, bull-in-a-china-shop intellect; her pained shyness and abject modesty, and a gaze like the gleam off a knife The pleasures of this remarkable correspondence lie in the untiring way these poets entertained each other with the comic inadequacies of the world."—New York Times" 875. Bookseller Inventory # 31981

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