William Carlos Williams and James Laughlin: Selected Letters

Hugh Witemeyer, Author, William Carlos Williams, Author
Hugh Witemeyer, Author, William Carlos Williams, Author W. W. Norton & Company $45 (293p) ISBN 978-0-393-02682-5
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000
Release date: 08/01/2000
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Over the years from 1933, when Harvard sophomore Laughlin met doctor-poet Williams and soon became his most dedicated publisher, the two men corresponded regularly until Williams's death in 1963. From the 149 well-annotated letters collected here one learns about the older man's attitudes toward his own writings and the works of others, his relationships with his publishers, his health and personal life. Williams writes expressively about T. S. Eliot's verse (``The only reason it doesn't smell is that it's synthetic''), Ezra Pound (``His letters are insults, the mewings of an 8th grade teacher,'' but ``we must forgive him his stupidities''), Randall Jarrell (``I don't know anyone I'm more determined to destroy'') and ``a kid named Tennessee Williams'' who has ``that beautiful lyric excitement that was in Lorca.'' Laughlin's affecting fictional account of one of their last meetings concludes the book. Although Williams was not a great letter writer, this collection, assembled by a professor of English at the University of New Mexico, is important for specialists in 20th-century literature. (Sept.)
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