The Collected Letters Of Robinson Jeffers, With Selected Letters Of Una Jeffers: Volume One, 1890-1930


This book is the first volume in what will be a three-volume, fully annotated edition that collects all of Robinson Jeffers' letters and the most important of Una Jeffers' letters. Volume One, comprised of letters written between 1890 and 1930, also contains a substantial introduction to Jeffers' life and work. Readers of Volume One will acquire a completely new understanding of Jeffers' formative years. Topics of special interest include the evolution of Robinson and Una's relationship (which involved the ...
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This book is the first volume in what will be a three-volume, fully annotated edition that collects all of Robinson Jeffers' letters and the most important of Una Jeffers' letters. Volume One, comprised of letters written between 1890 and 1930, also contains a substantial introduction to Jeffers' life and work. Readers of Volume One will acquire a completely new understanding of Jeffers' formative years. Topics of special interest include the evolution of Robinson and Una's relationship (which involved the breakup of her first marriage), their move to Carmel, the building of Tor House and Hawk Tower, Jeffers' maturation as a poet, the couple's widening circle of friends, and their first trip together to the British Isles.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Edited by James Karman, [The Collected Letters of Robinson Jeffers] is, like the Collected Poetry, a model of scholarly excellence. It seems fair to say that with the completion of the Letters project as well as further ancillary material in the Stanford pipeline, Jeffers will boast the finest editions of his work of any modern American poet . . . Stanford's commitment to [Jeffers] is fully deserved, and this handsome volume of letters will be essential to any further study of his work and career."—Robert Zaller, Rain Taxi

"James Karman's comprehensive and meticulously annotated edition of Jeffers's correspondence is rich with new ore that will clarify, complicate, and broaden our understanding of his poetry and will help us more fully grasp his participation in the literary culture of his period, especially the literary culture of the West . . . Clearly, this edition is a scholarly landmark for anyone working with Jeffers. It is also a major resource for those studying the literary culture of the American West in the first half of the twentieth century."—Tim Hunt, Western American Literature

"The entire undertaking—meticulously transcribed, annotated, and indexed by the editor, James Karman, and handsomely printed—is one of the major archival projects under way in American poetry . . . [T]he Collected Letters has the potential to help us revise not only how we think of [Jeffers] but also how we think about the arc of an entire century of American poetry . . . To read the passionate words in this book, inscribed by living hands now dust, is to live more intensely . . . There is enough material that provokes such contemplation in Jeffers's and Una's Letters to keep readers, critics, poets, and scholars busy for years."—David J. Rothman, Sewanee Review

"The success of Karman's efforts in collecting and editing is evidenced by the insight, heretofore not possible, that the volume provides into the lives of Jeffers and Una, especially in the early years of their relationship . . . Karman's transcription of these documents, as presented in this volume, provides remarkable clarity in content and style."—Gere S. diZerega, Jeffers Studies

"Karman has executed his work in accordance with the highest standards of modern editing. The result is a landmark contribution, one that lays the groundwork for sound and just future assessments of Jeffers' life and poetic achievement . . . Highly recommended."—D. D. Kummings, Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804762519
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2009
  • Pages: 1016
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 2.40 (d)

Meet the Author

James Karman, an independent scholar, is the author of Robinson Jeffers: Poet of California (1987) and the editor of Critical Essays on Robinson Jeffers (1990). He served as Professor in the Departments of English and Religious Studies and Coordinator of the Humanities Program at California State University, Chico.
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Copyright © 2011 Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8047-6251-9

Chapter One

LETTERS 1931–1939

UJ to Albert Bender

[January 1931] Saturday

My dearest Albert—

You must forgive my being late with good wishes and thank yous when I tell you that a cut finger prevented my writing {at} all during the holiday season. —and will you now accept our love and heartiest good wishes for your health & happiness during 1931, and our thanks for your too generous gifts. Little boys—big boys I should say put their generous check into their bank [begin strikethrough]b[end strikethrough]account to await some very special need. They have their own book and seem very sensible about finances, which pleases me in this day when children spend far too easily! —Our box was filled with lovely trinkets you thoughtful person!

As for ourselves we have been desperately busy carpenters have been here to put roof on dining-room & cupboards inside. Robin has worked very hard afternoons to finish the stone work. The great chimney being complicated by a dovecot built into one side!

A cabinet maker who designed and built Mr. Mack's house {& furnishings} (you must know him—?) has made for us a beautiful old English table & benches—

Robin writes all the morning as usual. He will have two books out this next year—a tiny thin (very de luxe) one by Random House long promised to them with Liverights permission—and a regular sized one by Liveright. We expect Liveright to spend a weekend during the latter part of January. —Why don't you come down over a weekend or a Feb. holiday? We can put you up here at Tor House.— So many amusing people have come & gone. I'd like to have a regular "tell" with you about them. —I have several times wished very much to be in the city. I wanted to see Rivera's exhibit. —I shall see your things sometime! When boys go to college there will be many jaunts for us to the city I trust. Dear Albert we send you our warm love. Una & all at Tor House.

RJ to Harriet Monroe

Tor House, Carmel, California. January 6, 1931.

Dear Miss Monroe:

Thank you for sending me the anniversary number of Poetry, we enjoyed reading it, and congratulate you. I'm sorry not to have spoken sooner, but either I am busy or lazy—or both—my letters never get written. I'm sorry too not to be able to offer any poems; almost the only ones I have that [begin strikethrough]would[end strikethrough] {might} be suitable are ear-marked for a little book that I promised random House almost two years ago, and am trying to make up my mind to send in. they want first publication.

It seemed a pity to change Poetry's cover-design, but good luck to it all the same.

Sincerely yours, Robinson Jeffers.

UJ to Blanche Matthias

January 19. 1931.

My dearest Blanche—

I wish you could see your Unicorn hunt— It is framed and hung in the new dining room—there is only one other picture there—an etching Stan Wood did of Tor House. You always send us the most exquisite things—the right thing—who else finds them but you!— Now comes this beautiful still face—whose {is} it Blanche?

I wish very much to have you see the dining room, all done now except the red brick floor to be laid later. {At present its just rough cement floor, rather nice too} A clever cabinet maker made us a great oak table 7½ ft long thick planks old English, and a settle and a bench of the same design.— In most of the room the great stones show but there are two great cupboards— one a clothes-press, the other for dishes in the latter your Jugtown pottery. —A loft like a minstrel's gallery at one end—in it a day bed, the great spinning wheel my grandmother brought from Ireland & the victrola—which the boys eagerly work— It sounds beautifully there.—

On the outside door is a tirling pin—do you remember mention of them in the old ballads? —Use instead of a knocker.— We copied this from John Knox's house in edinburgh. Come and tirl it.

Mabel & Tony are down in old Mexico. Yesterday the boys got a great basket full of brilliantly colored things from her. I think she bought out a whole bazaar of little animals and so on. We expect them in Carmel for a month this spring. She wants us to go back to Taos with her but we cannot leave. She is an amazingly interesting woman.

Have you met anywhere a nice {Austrian} Count Ledebur— He came the other day with Iris Tree—(Beerbohm tree's daughter)

Caroline Blackman married Orrick Johns and produced at 42 her first baby with great ease and celerity. —Caroline is greatly changed, sweet and natural and devoted to the baby and has quite laid aside that old sour morbidity.

Mr. Blackman died Friday, —heart attack.

My friends the Steffenses are in Croton for the winter.

Boys are deep deep in the thrilling book of Byrd you sent. They fear you cant be seeing many animals in New York—but hope you can tell them of some in Indochina.— Did you see Loti's curtains of bats in the corridors at Ang-Kor?

I must tell you what utter joy I take from the sandalwood oil you sent from Egypt. —One drop gives the essence of all sandalwood delight for days!

Tell me you are having great sights and experiences— are there wonderful pictures & plays? How are you— and do you see Alice— and how does Russell employ his days— Is New York active enough for him?

Warm love from all your friends at Tor House

Your devoted Una.

I think robin will have two books out this year—but never know until they are in the press— but it is likely a slender de luxe one long promised to Random House and a Liveright one.

UJ to Bennett Cerf

January 20. 1931.

Dear Mr. Cerf:

I will mail you tomorrow a group of short poems my husband wrote in Ireland & England. He thinks they may serve for the little volume you proposed. Let us know what you think

My heart leaps to think of owning a random House "Aphrodite in Aulis"!—. I hope you will not forget to send me a copy as you suggested.

Since our return from Ireland we have been very busy with work about our place— a five weeks motor trip down to Taos, New Mexico—guests of Mabel Dodge Luhan. —Robin is writing busily and there are always interesting people— A. E. was in Carmel and we had Thanksgiving dinner together—the most charming of men!

We are expecting Horace Liveright for a weekend, before February. He has been in Hollywood for several months.

We hope to see you and your uncle again at Tor House.

With every good wish—

Sincerely, Una Jeffers <over>

Edward Weston the photographer whose show in New York some weeks ago was much commented on, made a few small prints of robin from his large studies of him. I enclose one which may interest you.

UJ to Hazel Pinkham

[February 2, 1931] Candlemas Day.

Dearest Hazel—

You've probably heard Teddie's good news—a son, weight 7 lbs+, born five days ago and all going on well. We are all so gay about it. During the first few months she had a very bad time and then again at the last her kidneys acted up—but she is making a good recovery. How well do you know Gabrielle? She is a dear person, very lovable and I think Teddie is in luck! He has built on an addition {to his house} and an enclosing high wall about part of his courtyard {(catches the sun, & is paved)} —has a blood[begin strikethrough]hood[end strikethrough]{hound} and a stunning Irish wolfhound, —and shim3 who is a charming child— so you see its a regular household! —I think of you often and often even though writing letters gets harder and harder—finding time for them—thats the difficulty. Phoebe and I always have a good talk about the Pinkham household when she comes down to Carmel. I love Hans and Phoebe.

I had a letter from Percy this morning—nothing of moment. He had been in Devon for three weeks and Sheila with him part of the time—she had just returned to her garden study. Did Edith see him in London? What did Edith think of it all—did she love England? I had her nice card at Christmas—and I hate to think I havent until now thanked you for the beautiful grapes beautiful to taste and to see! the Jefferses love your grapes.

We havent gotten over the thrill of our just completed dining room— I should say almost completed for the tile (or brick floor) isnt laid yet and we are using the rough cement floor which really looks so interesting many people suggest our keeping it so. There is a minstrel's gallery affair at one end where my great old spinning wheel has a permanent place at last and a day bed and victrola up there. The boys adore it. A man who makes very beautiful furniture (he did most of the things at the famous Mack ranch here) made us a stunning old English heavy oak table 7½ ft x 3½—and [begin strikethrough]a[end strikethrough]two long benches (one of them with a back) to go with it. —the stone chimney outside is very nice too—Robin made a dovecote in it with five little rooms!— We had a pair of pigeons before we went abroad but had to give them away {then}. They were beautiful around the courtyard and we liked their cooing.

Boys are in High school at Monterey. They go over & back on the bus every day. How we hate having them gone all day. I don't see how you can spare your children for weeks— I begin to try to harden myself remembering the relentless rush of the years and college on its way. Is Edith at college and where? and didnt you come up for the game this year?

We see many amusing people. Yesterday Lord Hastings and Lady H. were here for tea—the Earl of [begin strikethrough]Huntingtons[end strikethrough] {Huntington's} son. He is bringing Rivera the Mexican artist to see us next week. Hastings has a copra plantation on the island of Mooria by Tahiti.— a nice Englishman he is awfully decent and full of amusing adventures. I had a letter this morning from Mabel Dodge Luhan who says not to expect her and Tony before May. They went down to old Mexico in Nov. and are too enthralled to leave. She has been seeing Stokowsky and Chavez a great deal— they are very much interested in Tony's songs and are going to visit her in Taos later and hear Tony's tribal songs in chorus. They think them much more untouched than the Indian songs they get down in Mexico—where the Spanish have made more impression. —Her letter is interesting, I'll enclose it, will you please return soon. I wish to show it to a painter here to prick him slightly about [begin strikethrough]the[end strikethrough] Rivera's fearless "telling of a story." Mabel has until now been staying at San Angel Inn just outside Mexico City. Dr. Harker tells me it is one of the finest inns she knows. Mexico isnt so difficult apparently.

Other interesting visitors lately were Iris tree (Beerbohm's daughter) and her friend (with whom she had motored across the continent) an Austrian Count Ledebur a charming man. She is lovely to look at very fair with yellow hair and exquisite voice— She is a great friend of Hon. Dorothy Brett, Viscount Esher's daughter—that strange violent and amusing —(and almost stone deaf) girl I think I wrote you about from Taos who came out to Taos with D. H. Lawrence & wife and when they went back to England stayed on—in that remote & lonely mountain cabin on the ranch Mabel gave to Lawrence. She paints & goes to N. Y. once a year to exhibit. Georgia O'Keefe was at Mabel's when we were there just came out to paint. She looks a{s}cetic, a lovely nun-like face but is passionate and wilful.

The Steffens are in New York and will return here {in} early spring. She had a thrilling time in Russia. Stef & their little boy stayed mostly at Jo Davidson's chateau in Touraine Count Ladebur had visited there just before coming over and said Jo's bust of Robin is stunning. Jo is to have an exhibit in London soon of writers only Shaw, {D. H.} Lawrence, Chesterton and others and Robin is to be the only American.

We had dinner {at John O'Shea's} with A. E.—(George Russell—did you hear him?) Robin spent the day with him. A. E. told me—all of us at dinner that when he came to America he had resolved to see two people—one an old friend in Pasadena, the other Robin! that made me happy. A. E. is a dear —he talks gossip, agriculture, politics, art and demi-gods all with equal enthusiasm. He has a warmth and charm—one sees why George Moore and Yeats and all the others love him so.

Virginia Woolf and her husband (the Hogarth Press) have published robins "Dear Judas" in London. They had previously done "Roan Stallion" & "Cawdor". —Do you see Harry & Fan? My love to them—hug your own family—all—

Faithfully— Una.

Esther Boardman Busby's husband died

RJ to Thomas R. Smith

Tor House, Carmel, California February 11, 1931.

Dear Mr. smith:

Thank you much for your kind telegram at New Year's, and for the beautifully done Marco Polo. And forgive me for not speaking sooner. I have been busy and unlucky with my verses, not wanting to take my mind off them for fear they'd flicker out—and they flickered out just the same, several times, but I expect everything will be all right now.

Let me congratulate you and the firm on your spring list of books. It is very fine. I hope the autumn one may announce one of mine.

Horace Liveright hasn't appeared here yet, but we are hoping a visit from him soon.

Sincerely yours, Robinson Jeffers.

RJ to Babette Deutsch

Carmel, California. February 11, 1931.

Dear Babette Deutsch:

"Epistle to Prometheus" arrived several days ago, and I hoped to have written you something about it before this. It seems to me a splendid poem. Within a week or less I'll send you a talk about it, which could be appear as a review if you know where to publish it. I know nobody. —Except that Suzanne La Follette wrote to me lately asking for verses for the New Freeman, or an article about poetry. I can send neither, but have just written that I'll send a nice review of your work if she wants.

Perhaps I've done wrong and you'd rather see to its placing yourself. Or perhaps she doesn't want my review. Meanwhile I'll send it to you as soon as I can.

Please take the trouble to thank your publishers for me, for sending the proofs.

Sincerely, Robinson Jeffers.

RJ to Henry Seidel Canby

Tor House, Carmel, California. February 12, 1931.

Dear Mr. Canby:

Thank you for asking me to let the Saturday Review see some poems with a view to publication. I'm sorry that just at present I can only find one—and that rather long—that might possibly be suitable. It is enclosed with this.

Sincerely yours, Robinson Jeffers.


Excerpted from THE COLLECTED LETTERS OF Robinson Jeffers WITH SELECTED LETTERS OF Una Jeffers Copyright © 2011 by Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University. Excerpted by permission of STANFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


Editorial Devices....................xxi
LETTERS 1931–1939....................1
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