Letter Writing Among Poets: From William Wordsworth to Elizabeth Bishop

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9781474414128: Letter Writing Among Poets: From William Wordsworth to Elizabeth Bishop
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Fifteen enlightening chapters by leading international biographers, critics and poets examine letter writing among poets in the last 200 years. Poets discussed include Coleridge, Wordsworth, Keats and Shelley in the nineteenth century and Eliot, Yeats, Bishop and Larkin in the twentieth. Divided into three sections - Contexts and Issues, Romantic and Victorian Letter Writing and Twentieth-Century Letter Writing - the volume demonstrates that real letters still have an allure that virtual post struggles to replicate.

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Review:

The fifteen essays in this volume consider letters written during the past two centuries, and shed light on the state of correspondence today. The editor, Jonathan Ellis, offers a gentle admonition to critics who mourn the 'lost world' before the internet (in the words of Rebecca Solnit), a time when everyone wrote at length and thought in depth... The scholarly contributors to Letter Writing Among Poets argue that letters merit as much critical attention as texts in other genres, and that poets' letters reward particular scrutiny. A letter may offer explicit commentary on individual poems or poetics, as does one written by Keats on December 27, 1817, explaining his concept of negative capability. Others, such as those exchanged by Coleridge and his contemporaries, contain gossip that provides insight into the way literary networks operated. Every letter exemplifies its writer's literary style, while some can be a testing ground for poetry. --Nancy Campbell, Times Literary Supplement

The collection looks backwards rather than forwards, celebrating the productive hybridity of letters as 'not only a source of information but a form of information'; letters are taken seriously as an art form in their own right, rather than a secondary source the critic mines for insights. Central to the collection is the shared conviction that letters are not 'autobiography by another name' but rather 'performances'... Covering the Romantic period through to the twentieth century, the volume addresses a miscellany of subjects, although Keats and Bishop are, rightly, important touchstones... the essays are penetrating and engagingly written. --Ruth Hawthorn, PN Review

To read poets' letters to other poets is to gain insight into the context in which they operated and into the complex bond of common obsession and lonely practice that ties and at the same time separates them. It also, of course, casts light on the work itself. --Peter Sirr, Poetry Ireland Review

About the Author:

Jonathan Ellis is Reader in American Literature at the University of Sheffield.

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9780748681327: Letter Writing Among Poets: From William Wordsworth to Elizabeth Bishop

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ISBN 10:  0748681329 ISBN 13:  9780748681327
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press, 2015
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