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

Richard J. Kelley, Author, John Berryman, Author, Richard J. Kelly, Editor W. W. Norton & Company $22.5 (405p) ISBN 978-0-393-02477-7
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)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1988
Release date: 03/01/1988
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