A Common Life: Four Generations of American Literary Friendship and Influence: Melville and Hawthorne, James and Wharton, Porter and Welty, Bishop and Lowell

A Common Life: Four Generations of American Literary Friendship and Influence: Melville and Hawthorne, James and Wharton, Porter and Welty, Bishop and Lowell

by David Laskin
     
 
An intimate view of four friendships that helped define the course of American literature: Melville & Hawthorne, James & Wharton, Porter & Welty, Bishop & Lowell.

Overview

An intimate view of four friendships that helped define the course of American literature: Melville & Hawthorne, James & Wharton, Porter & Welty, Bishop & Lowell.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Laskin, a fluent writer, here assembles an impressive amount of anecdotal material on four literary friendships: Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne; Edith Wharton and Henry James; Katherine Anne Porter and Eudora Welty; and Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell. But the ingenuity of his construct with its endless interweavings between these writers ultimately gives the impression of constant straining for parallels. Laskin claims that Melville's meeting Hawthorne early in his work on Moby Dick ``altered the course of this masterpiece''; that Henry James spurred Edith Wharton to write The House of Mirth ; that Porter launched Welty's literary career, etc. Despite Laskin's preoccupation with his initial thesis, there is a great deal of information about all eight writers here. Most of it can be found elsewhere, but in the end Laskin ( Eastern Islands ) succeeds in making his point that great artists irritate and inspire one another. Photos not seen by PW. (May)
Library Journal
Journalist Laskin presents a stylish biographical account of four American literary friendships. His pairs of writers range across the literary decades: Hawthorne and Melville, James and Wharton, Katherine Anne Porter and Welty, Bishop and Lowell-all of whom "bored deep into the core of what it means to be American." Laskin doesn't aspire to revise our understanding of any of his writers, but his focus on the four friendships provides an illuminating, appealing angle of vision. His easy command of the fiction and poetry of his subjects is a plus. His attempt to isolate "parallels in the `structures' of the friendships" strikes this reader as factitious, but it doesn't prevent his work from being an engaging work of literary biography. For informed readers as well as specialists.-Keith Cushman, Univ. of North Carolina, Greensboro

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780874517644
Publisher:
University Press of New England
Publication date:
05/01/1996
Edition description:
1st UPNE ed
Pages:
476
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.01(d)

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