Kenneth Rexroth and James Laughlin: Selected Letters

Lee Bartlett, Author, Kenneth Rexroth, Author W. W. Norton & Company $27.5 (292p) ISBN 978-0-393-02939-0
``You are becoming . . . a counter-revolutionary publisher,'' poet-essayist Kenneth Rexroth blasted his friend and publisher James Laughlin. ``You are neurotic as hell,'' Laughlin, head of New Directions, wrote to the tantrum-prone muse of San Francisco's literary renaissance of the 1960s. Despite deadly cutting remarks, their relationship lasted from the 1930s to Rexroth's death in 1982. A flow of literary tabletalk, their correspondence is most interesting for Rexroth's lacerating comments on certain writers: Ezra Pound (``too much plain eccentricity''), Robert Penn Warren (``extremely derivative . . . and derivative from very bad exemplars''), Pablo Neruda (``literary Stalinism'') and many others. Rexroth also records his meetings with Dylan Thomas and Henry Miller, bemoans his penuriousness and literary obscurity, and mulls over his marriages which were constantly falling to pieces. On politics, he sometimes sounds eerily prescient: ``The future Assyrians will unquestionably destroy the race.'' Bartlett is a professor of English at the Univeristy of New Mexico. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1991
Release date: 03/01/1991
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