Byways: A Memoir By James Laughlin

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9780811216173: Byways: A Memoir By James Laughlin

The long-awaited memoirs of New Directions' founder. James Laughlin, the late founder and publisher of New Directions, was also a poet of elegance and distinction. At his death in 1997 at the age of eighty-three, he left unfinished his long autobiographical poem, Byways. It is no exaggeration to say that his publishing house, which he began in 1936 while still an undergraduate at Harvard, changed the way Americans read and write serious literature. Yet the man who published some of the greatest writers of the twentieth century remained resistant for most of his life to the memoiristic impulse. In the end he found his autobiographical voice by adopting the swift-moving line of Kenneth Rexroth's booklength philosophical poem, The Dragon and the Unicorn (1952). Byways weaves together family history (the Laughlins were wealthy Pittsburgh steel magnates), the poet's early memories and travels in Europe and America with his playboy father, his years at Harvard, first meetings with Pound, the beginning of his publishing venture, his reminiscences of close friendships with writers including W.C. Williams, Thomas Merton, and Kenneth Rexroth, his postwar work in Europe and Asia with the Ford Foundation as publisher of its international literary magazine, Perspectives, and not least, his many early loves.

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About the Author:

Peter Glassgold is a writer, translator, and literary editor whose association with New Directions goes back to 1968. Among his books are the novel The Angel Max (Harcourt, 1998) and Anarchy! An Anthology of Emma Goldman's "Mother Earth" (Counterpoint, 2001).

From Publishers Weekly:

Like his life, Laughlin's memoir is a bold demonstration of good literary ethics. The scion of Pittsburgh steel men, Laughlin founded America's greatest avant-garde press at the behest of Ezra Pound. New Directions brought immortals like Nabokov, Borges and Sartre to the States while sustaining domestic treasures such as William Carlos Williams and Henry Miller. And all the while, Laughlin's gentlemanly manners-a sporting worldliness and a casual erudition-led to proliferating contacts. Although written in verse, his memoir is so plainspoken it can be read as prose. As a writer, he seems simply happy that "It's / All down on my yellow pad." In fact, the book is an incomplete project, neatly edited by Glassgold, but it nonetheless covers most of Laughlin's life-from ancestors through Harvard and youthful travels to mature relationships with his writers. He lingers on Williams, with whom he once had an interesting quarrel. Laughlin seems to gauge New Direction's worth in terms of this poet, who, underappreciated for much of his life, might have otherwise been forgotten. Laughlin seldom describes his own intellectual growth or personal life, but he does include love affairs at regular intervals. Smoothly candid, he explains that his freshman girlfriend was "a toasty little biscuit." Travels in Germany and India slow the spate of literary anecdote, but probably do justice to Laughlin's life as it was lived. He is an unselfconscious memoirist, who asks "What harm can there be / In remembering?" His sentences are short, plentiful declaratives, indicative of a publisher who believed in getting as many good words to the public as possible. New Directions is a genial legend in American letters; this volume may well be its corresponding bible.
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Book Description New Directions Publishing Corporation, United States, 2005. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. The long-awaited memoirs of New Directions founder. James Laughlin, the late founder and publisher of New Directions, was also a poet of elegance and distinction. At his death in 1997 at the age of eighty-three, he left unfinished his long autobiographical poem, Byways. It is no exaggeration to say that his publishing house, which he began in 1936 while still an undergraduate at Harvard, changed the way Americans read and write serious literature. Yet the man who published some of the greatest writers of the twentieth century remained resistant for most of his life to the memoiristic impulse. In the end he found his autobiographical voice by adopting the swift-moving line of Kenneth Rexroth s booklength philosophical poem, The Dragon and the Unicorn (1952). Byways weaves together family history (the Laughlins were wealthy Pittsburgh steel magnates), the poet s early memories and travels in Europe and America with his playboy father, his years at Harvard, first meetings with Pound, the beginning of his publishing venture, his reminiscences of close friendships with writers including W.C. Williams, Thomas Merton, and Kenneth Rexroth, his postwar work in Europe and Asia with the Ford Foundation as publisher of its international literary magazine, Perspectives, and not least, his many early loves. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9780811216173

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Book Description New Directions Publishing Corporation, United States, 2005. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The long-awaited memoirs of New Directions founder. James Laughlin, the late founder and publisher of New Directions, was also a poet of elegance and distinction. At his death in 1997 at the age of eighty-three, he left unfinished his long autobiographical poem, Byways. It is no exaggeration to say that his publishing house, which he began in 1936 while still an undergraduate at Harvard, changed the way Americans read and write serious literature. Yet the man who published some of the greatest writers of the twentieth century remained resistant for most of his life to the memoiristic impulse. In the end he found his autobiographical voice by adopting the swift-moving line of Kenneth Rexroth s booklength philosophical poem, The Dragon and the Unicorn (1952). Byways weaves together family history (the Laughlins were wealthy Pittsburgh steel magnates), the poet s early memories and travels in Europe and America with his playboy father, his years at Harvard, first meetings with Pound, the beginning of his publishing venture, his reminiscences of close friendships with writers including W.C. Williams, Thomas Merton, and Kenneth Rexroth, his postwar work in Europe and Asia with the Ford Foundation as publisher of its international literary magazine, Perspectives, and not least, his many early loves. Bookseller Inventory # BZV9780811216173

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