“Edited with scrupulous attention not only to detail but also to the overall impression left by the volume. The Selected Letters is a virtual autobiography of Yvor Winters.”
The Providence Sunday Journal
“Thank you for your very pleasant letter and for your admiration of my work. The postage stamp was quite unnecessary. Writing my admirers will never seriously affect my income.”
“With the current renewal of interest in formalist poetry, it may well be that Winters legacy will prove more congenial to the present century than to the one just past… [T]he clarity and balance that became dogma for this poet and text for his followers may ultimately be seen as less a detour from the main highway of literary history than as an inviting alternate route.”
Poet, teacher, and critic, Yvor Winters was a man of letters in more ways than one. This selection of his personal correspondence spans half a century of literary history and a lifetime of intellectual development and growth. As a record of a serious artist and thinker's grappling with important issues and, sometimes, with his notable friends, the letters offer new and often unexpected insight into the creative mind at work.
The reader who comes to these letters with the standard-issue caricature of Yvor Winters- cantankerous, dogmatic, Calvinistic- will not be disappointed. Like all caricatures, this one contains partial truth, but partial truth is ultimately more destructive than an outright lie. What these letters portray clearly is a complex individual: he can be cantankerous and dogmatic (he was never Calvinistic) but he is also generous in the extreme, egalitarian, sensitive, noble, and downright funny.
Rich with Winters's personal impressions and honest appraisals and addressed to a panoply of poets, writers, and editors, including Marianne Moore, Allen Tate, Lincoln Kirstein, Louise Bogan, and Katherine Anne Porter among many others, The Selected Letters of Yvor Winters offers that unique glimpse of a writer of stature in private conversation with his peers.
Yvor Winters (1900-1968) was a poet, critic, and Stanford University professor of English literature. He won the Bollingen Prize in 1961.
R. L. Barth is the author of A Soldier's Time, Abandon Hope, and, most recently, First Morning, Last Night. As Robert L. Barth he is a publisher of chapbooks.
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