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The Letters of Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov
     

The Letters of Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov

by Robert J. Bertholf, Albert Gelpi
 

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Among the most influential American poets of the postwar period, Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov carried on an extensive correspondence with each other. This volume presents their nearly 500 letters, which deal largely with their political, religious, and ethical convictions as artists. Editors Bertholf (Curator of the Poetry/Rare Books Collection at SUNY Buffalo)

Overview

Among the most influential American poets of the postwar period, Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov carried on an extensive correspondence with each other. This volume presents their nearly 500 letters, which deal largely with their political, religious, and ethical convictions as artists. Editors Bertholf (Curator of the Poetry/Rare Books Collection at SUNY Buffalo) and Gelpi (emeritus, American literature, Stanford U.) have provided a critical introduction, notes, a chronology, and an extensive glossary of names referred to in the letters. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

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
"No good poetry can be written to order, regardless of how worthy or pressing the cause. Duncan's and Levertov's letters are an invaluable historical document on how difficult it is to respond to such questions while innocent blood is being spilled. They seem to me even more eloquent and relevant today as we find ourselves living through another senseless war."—The New York Review of Books
"The reader who holds The Letters in his hands holds the actual friendship . . . and accordingly is offered a rare chance to understand where two old friends went wrong. Spanning some thirty years . . . the collection manages what would seem unlikely in material so sprawling: to tell a coherent story."—Common Knowledge
"This splendid edition fulfills every wish."—American Literary Scholarship

American Literary Scholarship
"This splendid edition fulfills every wish."
Oyster Boy Review - Jeffery Beam
"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."
Choice
"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."
Common Knowledge
"The reader who holds The Letters in his hands holds the actual friendship . . . and accordingly is offered a rare chance to understand where two old friends went wrong. Spanning some thirty years . . . the collection manages what would seem unlikely in material so sprawling: to tell a coherent story."
Times Literary Supplement - Marjorie Perloff
"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."
BOOKFORUM
"Duncan and Levertov's intellectual integrity makes reading this book an emotionallly bracing experience."
American Literature
"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."
The New York Review of Books
"No good poetry can be written to order, regardless of how worthy or pressing the cause. Duncan's and Levertov's letters are an invaluable historical document on how difficult it is to respond to such questions while innocent blood is being spilled. They seem to me even more eloquent and relevant today as we find ourselves living through another senseless war."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780804745697
Publisher:
Stanford University Press
Publication date:
10/20/2003
Edition description:
1
Pages:
896
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 1.90(d)

Related Subjects

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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