BN.com Gift Guide

Robert B Heilman His Life in Letters

Overview

Robert Bechtold Heilman was a great literary figure of the twentieth century. This collection of his correspondence includes over 600 exchanges with more than 100 correspondents, among them Saul Bellow, Kenneth Burke, Malcolm Cowley, Richard Eberhart, Charles Johnson, Bernard Malamud, and William Carlos Williams. The letters follow Heilman's career from the time he was a thirty-six-year-old member of Louisiana State University's English Department, through his tenure at the University of Washington from 1948 to ...

See more details below
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (12) from $1.99   
  • New (4) from $11.88   
  • Used (8) from $1.99   
Sending request ...

Overview

Robert Bechtold Heilman was a great literary figure of the twentieth century. This collection of his correspondence includes over 600 exchanges with more than 100 correspondents, among them Saul Bellow, Kenneth Burke, Malcolm Cowley, Richard Eberhart, Charles Johnson, Bernard Malamud, and William Carlos Williams. The letters follow Heilman's career from the time he was a thirty-six-year-old member of Louisiana State University's English Department, through his tenure at the University of Washington from 1948 to 1975, until a few years before his death in 2004. Two of his appointees who spent their entire careers at the University of Washington, Edward Alexander and Richard Dunn, have edited the letters with Paul Jaussen.

The rich representation of letters to as well as from Heilman gives the reader access to decades-long conversations between him and Robert Penn Warren, Cleanth Brooks, Joseph Epstein, Theodore Roethke, and many others. They provide a sense of Heilman's character, personality, and achievements in the context of American letters. They also afford an inside history of the changes that took place over sixty years, for better and worse, in American universities, literary criticism, and the politics of literature.

In the 1940s, Heilman not only defended the New Criticism against its many enemies, but in his own writing extended its imperial reach to the tragedies of Shakespeare. By the fifties, the focus of his letters shifted to the University of Washington's Department of English, and his flair for efficient, energetic, and imaginative administration resonates through them. The first time University of Washington President Raymond Allen read a letter by Heilman, he scribbled a note to his provost: "I like this man's philosophy very much... would he not make an excellent Dean of Arts and Sciences?" Heilman had been at the university less than four months.

He soon transformed the department, making Washington a national center for poetry. He exhibited courage and ingenuity in defending academic freedom from yahooism and McCarthyism, nurtured and protected an ailing and unpredictable Roethke (a letter about Roethke is one of the wisest and most eloquent letters ever written by a university administrator), and struggled with demands for the appointment of black faculty as well as with the volatile campus politics of the sixties.

Heilman's major correspondents - especially his Washington colleagues Solomon Katz and Andrew Hilen - were learned and articulate masters of the epistolary art. To read his letters and theirs is to understand that Samuel Johnson's famous observation "we shall receive no letters in the grave" was not a sigh of expected relief from nuisance and obligation but an anticipatory lament over the loss of a supreme pleasure.

University of Washington Press

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

The Journal of Southern History - Bryan A. Giemza

The book makes a valuable record of the intellectual ferment of the New Criticism, demonstrating its national dimensions and offering important insights on the nature of academic vocation from a man who was truly at the center.

Weekly Standard

Reading these letters makes one eager to go back to Robert Heilman's books and articles, but it also arouses the suspicion that it may be his letters even more than his critical works, fine as they are, that have the most lasting interest..The editors can be proud of their work in assembling this monument to the humanity, integrity, and hard-earned wisdom of one of the foremost of those New Critics whose humanistic legacy has for decades been too often either neglected or distorted.

Sewanee Review

Any letter of Heilman's has an astonishing measures of wit and wisdom. This book of letters constitutes the prototype of what a book of letters written to and from a great correspondent can be. I salute Heilman and his editors.

Phi Beta Kappa The Key Reporter

Reading [these letters] reminds us that once letter writing was an art form and that through them great minds used it to seek out kindred spirits with whom to commune about the great issues of the times. The book is a feast for the intellect and literary sensibility.

Choice

This collection offers... a glimpse behind the curtain of how poets often are made famous (in part by patient and laborious handholding of fellow academics and supportive institutions), and it offers literature scholars a firsthand look at the New Criticism as it was founded and subsequently flourished.

Academic Questions

The six-hundred-plus letters selected... represent letter writing (almost a lost art in today's world of electronic communication) at its finest, not merely because of the articulation and use of language, but more so because of the educational issues they address and the ethical and gentlemanly manner in which Heilman responded to them.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780295988665
  • Publisher: University of Washington Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2009
  • Pages: 808
  • Sales rank: 1,205,897
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 2.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward Alexander is professor emeritus of English and author of numerous books on Victorian literature and Jewish subjects. Richard J. Dunn is professor emeritus of English and author or editor of eleven books about Victorian novelists. Paul Jaussen is completing his Ph.D. in English. All are at the University of Washington.

University of Washington Press

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsEditorial PracticesIntroduction by Edward Alexander1. Reading Minds and Intentions: The 1940s2. Categories of Existence: The 1950s3. A Mind Grappling in a New Way: The 1960s4. The Kultur-Kampf over Literary Studies: The 1970s5. Gains and Losses: The 1980s6. Cast Me Not Off in Old Age: The 1990s and BeyondChronologyHeilman's CorrespondentsPermissionsIndex

University of Washington Press

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)