It’s almost as though Lowell is—although he’s full of grief about the end of his marriage, the family life he’s giving up for his new family life, it’s in those irritated letters to her, those anguished letters to her, about the house that his cousin Harriet had given to them in Hardwick’s name—it puts his grief in touch somehow, in a different way than you hear in the other letters. Any rendering of his life or her life by those who came after—she’s already anticipated all the fault lines. What Hardwick didn’t know was that, at a party a few days after his arrival in England, before he’d even made his way to Oxford, Lowell had renewed his acquaintance with the younger woman who became his Dolphin, and who until then had been seeing the editor of The New York Review of Books. Lowell, whatever he was, had a monster of genius in him. The words, on the other hand, remain the property of the writer. Click here for the lowest price! Over and over, he conveniently forgot while juntering on about other things. And out of fairness to her, we also wanted to represent her voice as though she wasn’t just locked in this marital conversation. As a reader of our efforts, you have stood with us on the front lines in the battle for culture. In the book, Lowell went beyond what he’d done in Life Studies, and later he had regrets. . All the writing about herself and about Lowell and her thoughts on biography in general, and life writing, and memoir, and fiction. “The thing that was most difficult, perhaps, for the family was that Hardwick didn’t have the chance to make her own decision about what to do with her letters,” said Hamilton. Every poet needs a contrary voice, a critic who can stand outside the poems and risk shouting, “Ridiculous!” or “You’ve got to be kidding!” Yet Lowell’s revisions became a kind of madness, compulsive reworkings without the trappings of art—and Bidart seemed to egg him on. Lady Caroline Blackwood, an elfin, fetching heiress almost fifteen years younger than Lowell, suffered from Alma Mahler Syndrome—Mahler had married the composer Gustav Mahler, the architect Walter Gropius, and the novelist Franz Werfel. Curiously, if you forget to look at the headings of the letters, it’s sometimes hard to tell whether they’re by Lowell or Hardwick. “Last March, I knew you’d manage by yourself. I miss Barnard, which would have meant a lot to me, but they have filled my post for the year. Bidart’s role was difficult, less lion tamer than lion whisperer. . She refuses to continue to be humiliated. You could pigeonhole them if you wanted to, you could reduce their lives to a plot, say good riddance. Lowell apparently worried that she would destroy them; but, as the editor notes, Bidart could have given her copies. You just have the sense that she’s looking right back at you. $9.89. Via New Republic. To read the book would have been little better than finding that your ex has been posting nude pictures of you all over the web. To show up for the letter, and treat it like a real piece of writing. When she died in 2007, however, Lowell's literary executor Frank Bidart called the family with a stunning announcement. (These were apparently lost after being excerpted for the biography.) Beginning in November 1975, he suffered numerous hospitalizations—an overdose of lithium, at least two manic episodes, and a bout of congestive heart failure—to say nothing of the sprees of odd behavior, like announcing in a restaurant that he was the king of Scotland. It’s hard to summarize all the different threads of emotion and argument that they’re having with one another. There was no mistaking the inspiration—it contained what appeared to be direct quotations of letters written by someone who shared, with Hardwick, the nickname Lizzie. Confessional poetry, as it came to be called, began with the publication of two books in April 1959: Lowell’s Life Studies, which received the National Book Award, and W. D. Snodgrass’s Heart’s Needle, winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Free shipping for many products! Learn how your support contributes to our continued defense of truth. They’re partly an instruction booklet to the misery two literate, intelligent adults can bring each other; and the letters have cruelly and crucially now been paired with two versions of Lowell’s The Dolphin (1973), where his mania for revision is nakedly on display. I was interested in how they were talking to others about what they were talking about between themselves. you tease the patients as if they were your friends, your real friends who want to save your image. Hamilton spoke with Vanity Fair by phone from her office in Barnard Hall—the same building where Hardwick herself used to have an office. Looking for more? The numerous drafts of “Skunk Hour” now at Harvard are extraordinary, revealing how the poem only gradually and painfully became itself. . In the aftermath, Hardwick took a measured view of the man who had caused her more grief, and perhaps given more joy, than any other: “His fate was like a strange, almost mythical two-engined machine, one running to doom and the other to salvation.” She perhaps misremembered the difficult lines from Lycidas, “that two-handed engine at the door,/ Stands ready to smite once, and smite no more.” The old theological idea, that the sword of God will save some and damn others, is not quite Hardwick’s two-engined Cadillac—or whatever it is. And yet. But instead it’s the kind of extraordinary act of composure that we see in the creation of their work. Lowell loved too well the frenzy of revision. The purpose of this double volume is, alas, never entirely clear. What a shrink would make of such sublime passive-aggression can be guessed. You must leave that parasitic life and come home.” Months later, she was still beside herself: “We can’t bear your photographs, anything. (Elizabeth Bishop wrote him, “Aren’t you violating a trust? The phrase “life studies” should be taken seriously—sketches from life, art achieved through deep inspection and practice, but “studies,” not finished work. Hardwick, even before the affair, had proposed that Lowell sell his archive, then cluttering up his unused study. Robert Lowell - 1917-1977 My Dolphin, you only guide me by surprise, a captive as Racine, the man of craft, drawn through his maze of iron composition by the incomparable wandering voice of Phèdre. He had bought her portrait. It’s Newton’s fourth law. The Dolphin: Two Versions, 1972–1973, is more or less a tease.2 The front half is the 1973 edition; the back half, the typescript circulated among friends a year before, with Lowell’s handwritten alterations meticulously transcribed by the editor. The best of them died before they became grandfathers, but most had already written themselves out. He had the right to do with them as he wished.” Not quite. When I was troubled in mind, you made for my body Due to Lowell’s creative falsifications, she might also have sued for libel—she may have been stayed only by the probable effect on their daughter. They were worried about avoiding the more gossipy take someone could make on the letters.” Hamilton ultimately spent close to a decade tracking down correspondence from the couple’s many friends and colleagues, crafting as full a narrative of those years as possible of the most trying—and fruitful—years of their lives. But art just isn’t worth that much.”) He had the arrogance of a writer who carelessly seized whatever he needed. That new creature. 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