We Dream of Honour: John Berryman's Letters to His Mother

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Of the more than 700 letters poet John Berryman wrote to his mother from 1928 to 1971, 22 are printed here. They are of biographical and literary interest, and illuminate their close, intense, complex relationship. Nineteen of hers to him, some early versions of subsequently published poems and 12 poems never before published are also included. The letters are important for what they disclose about a major poet, but also for what they reveal about his feelings for his ambitious, disappointed, difficult mother (he called her both ``Dearest'' and ``Jackass''), his friends and enemies, politics, religion (a Catholic, he once considered converting to Judaism), his marriages, divorces, affairs, alcoholism, mental illness and urge toward suicide. Berryman killed himself in 1972 in Minneapolis by jumping off a bridge. Kelly's editing and annotations are very fine; he is a bibliographer at the University of Minnesota. Photos not seen by PW. (February)
Library Journal
This is the first appearance of any of Berryman's correspondence, 221 letters to the person he has called his ``unspeakably powerful possessive MOTHER.'' At different times she was benefactor and adversary, encouraging his work and driving him to the brink of self-destruction. These extraordinary letters plunge the reader into his tortured private life and show such friends as Schwartz and Lowell from a new perspective. ``If I had begun to adlib I'd never have stopped,'' he wrote of a speech. These letters are one life-long adlib chronicling his fears, longings, and successes, and stopping only at the bottom of his long slide into alcoholism, madness, and suicide. Michael Edmonds, State Historical Soc. of Wisconsin Lib., Madison
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393024777
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/1/1988
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 1
  • Lexile: 1180L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 1.00 (w) x 1.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

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