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The Letters of Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov

Overview


“Duncan and Levertov’s intellectual integrity makes reading this book an emotionallly bracing experience...”—BOOKFORUM
“The affectionate, chatty, honest, lengthy, detailed comments in the correspondence give an insight into two souls for whom words were life...This corresondence is invaluable to those interested in the language of poetry, indeed of all writing.”—Choice
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Overview


“Duncan and Levertov’s intellectual integrity makes reading this book an emotionallly bracing experience...”—BOOKFORUM
“The affectionate, chatty, honest, lengthy, detailed comments in the correspondence give an insight into two souls for whom words were life...This corresondence is invaluable to those interested in the language of poetry, indeed of all writing.”—Choice
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This volume presents the complete correspondence between celebrated American poets Duncan and Levertov, which began in 1953 and ended in 1985 with Duncan's death. Editors Bertholf (curator, Poetry/ Rare Book Collection, SUNY at Buffalo) and Gelpi (William Robertson Coe Professor of American Literature, emeritus, Stanford Univ.) divide the 500 letters into four chronological groupings and provide meticulous ancillaries, which include notes, a glossary, an appendix, and a time line of the friendship; Gelpi also provides a first-rate introduction. As both poets explore the mythopoetic power of the imagination, their correspondence lays open the metaphysics of the visionary process, and they write back and forth about the mystery of this experience. Later, the discussion moves to external realities and their shared opposition to the Vietnam War. Unfortunately, their original impulse-to see their distinctive orientations as complementary-gives way to contentions over their didactic responses to the war, and shared wonder is not enough to sustain the friendship. In the end, it would seem, poetry could make no claims on absolutes, and the big ideas that brought these poets together bring their friendship to naught. A big book for those looking for insight into the nature of poetry, particularly in the last half of the war-riddled 20th century.-Scott Hightower, Fordham Univ., NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

"This collection represents the most important and complete interchange between two poets in the latter half of the century, and offers essential insight into the aesthetics of Black Mountain, open-field, Projectivist, and Objectivist poetry—but also elucidates the blend of mystical and personal which makes their work so entrancing . . . I found this book one of the most exciting interchanges of ideas in letter that I have ever read. Albert Gelpi's introduction thoroughly extends appreciation for Levertov and Duncan's relationship, and provides illuminating insight into the causes of the rift between them. Such a massive collection demands good appendices, and the editors successfully provide contextual notes, a glossary, a chronology, and biographical information about the people mentioned in the letters."—Jeffery Beam, Oyster Boy Review

"Duncan and Levertov's intellectual integrity makes reading this book an emotionallly bracing experience."—BOOKFORUM

"The affectionate, chatty, honest, lengthy, detailed comments in the correspondence give an insight into two souls for whom words were life...This corresondence is invaluable to those interested in the language of poetry, indeed of all writing."—Choice

"The correspondance, now presented to us in a monumental edition produced by Albert Gelpi and Robert J. Bertholf, with a judicious introduction by Gelpi and useful appendix, glossary of names, chronology and notes, is an indispensable addition to our understanding of American poetry in the post-war decades. Even readers who have reservations about the work of both poets will find these letters riveting."—Marjorie Perloff, Times Literary Supplement

"The intimacy, loyalty, and lively intellectual exchange captured in this correspondence reveal the intense bond between Duncan and Levertov and depict the state of American poetry and cultural history in the mid-twentieth century."—American Literature

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804745680
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press
  • Publication date: 10/30/2003
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 896
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 2.20 (d)

Meet the Author


Robert Bertholf is Curator of The Poetry/Rare Books Collection, University of Buffalor of New York. Albert Gelpi is William Robertson Coe Professor of American Literature, Emeritus, at Stanford University.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: The "Aesthetic Ethics" of the Visionary Imagination
Editorial Note
Pt. 1 1953-1959 1
Pt. 2 1960-1963 229
Pt. 3 1964-1968 437
Pt. 4 1969-1988 627
Appendix 727
Glossary of Names 757
Brief Chronology of Duncan and Levertov 791
Books in Letters 797
Notes 799
Index 837
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