Delmore Schwartz and James Laughlin: Selected Letters

Delmore Schwartz, Author, Robert Phillips, Editor, James Laughlin, With W. W. Norton & Company $45 (382p) ISBN 978-0-393-03471-4
Collected here are more than 100 letters from poet Schwartz ( In Dreams Begin Responsibilities ) and some 50 replies from Laughlin, poet and founder of New Directions. We follow Schwartz (1913-1966) from his fame at 25 for his first book published by Laughlin, to his final days overwhelmed by mental illness. Laughlin in his letters charts both their professional and their personal relationships. Schwartz constantly advised Laughlin, urging him to publish John Berryman, Eudora Welty and Jean Garrigue. For his part, Laughlin called Schwartz ``the American Auden.'' Their friendship thrived on the passion each felt for good writing and for Laughlin's publishing credo that a book of poetry was ``not the same as a bottle of mouthwash.'' But in his introduction, Phillips ( Kenneth Rexroth and James Laughlin: Selected Letters ) also comments, ``There is no doubt that Laughlin was more sinned against than sinning.'' Schwartz came to blame him for earnings that never equalled what a commercial publisher might have paid, yet he seemed to feel a bottomless need for Laughlin's praise. The letters reveal the making of honest literature at its complicated best; they send us to the valued work of each man. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1978
Release date: 09/01/1978
Genre: Nonfiction
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