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The Selected Letters of John Berryman Reviews

The Selected Letters of John Berryman by John Berryman, Philip Coleman, Calista McRae, Martha Mayou

The Selected Letters of John Berryman

John Berryman, Philip Coleman, Calista McRae, Martha Mayou

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1 review

Category: History, Non-fiction, Poetry
Imprint: The Belknap Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 30 Oct 2020
ISBN: 9780674976252

John Berryman was an energetic correspondent. Assembled here for the first time, his letters tell of generosity, ambition, and struggle. He has encouraging words for fellow poets and younger writers and is deeply engaged in literary culture. But also visible are the struggles of a working artist grappling with alcoholism and depression.

3 stars out of 5
28 Nov 2020

"for all his losses Berryman displays a capacity for joy"

The letters are mostly of interest to the converted: there’s no laying out of the principles of the art. We see Berryman griping, ranting, heartbroken; repetition abounds, of witticisms, of complaints — fascinating to those hooked on his work, but he’s no transcendent corresponder. Nor is there scandal; just one letter, incongruous in its loving isolation, to Chris, the woman who inspired his initially self-suppressed sonnets. 

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