She wrote Elizabeth Bishop that the poems “hurt me as much as anything in my life” and was scathing to his publishers. Skip to main content. Saskia Hamilton: I was working on Lowell’s writings for quite a few years. Edwards and the Spider,” “Falling Asleep over the Aeneid,” “Skunk Hour,” “Jonathan Edwards in Western Massachusetts,” “For the Union Dead,” and many another, he showed where he stood in the long ranks of poets in English. You have told us what we are, like Melville. T he generation of American poets born between Teddy Roosevelt’s inauguration and the end of World War I proved neither as varied nor as innovative as the radical talents born to the Gilded Age. He admitted to his publisher Robert Giroux that the letters in the book were only “versions” “made up of a mixture of quotes, improvisation, paraphrase.” This edition could have clarified exactly what Lowell filched and what he fabricated, showing more plainly if the gains in art were worth the loss of fidelity. Read "The Dolphin Two Versions, 1972-1973" by Robert Lowell available from Rakuten Kobo. It’s hard to summarize all the different threads of emotion and argument that they’re having with one another. Click here for the lowest price! (Given the generosity of her venom, she was more a hornet.) Hardwick believed—Lowell had told her—that her side of the correspondence from the Dolphin era had been lost or destroyed. She once described him as. It has taken a cruel century to diminish the reputations of that generation. (These were apparently lost after being excerpted for the biography.) 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. This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 38 Number 6, on page 4 Copyright © 2021 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com https://newcriterion.com/issues/2020/2/lowells-dolphin, Topics:Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Hardwick, Poetry, The Dolphin, Caroline Blackwood, personal difficulties make trip to new york impossible right away, The Dolphin Letters, 1970–1979: Elizabeth Hardwick, Robert Lowell, and Their Circle, https://newcriterion.com/issues/2020/2/lowells-dolphin. [Harriet and I] had utterly uprooted ourselves. As with Berryman, some of the things he wrote would offend later sensibilities: in one letter, “I’ve hardly met the real Lesbian storm troops, but I think they talk like hysterical Negroes and other fanatics.”. Lowell was an inveterate reviser, which is not quite the same as a golfer taking more than his share of mulligans. Some lines might, of course, have been drawn from conversations or letters now missing—or just cut from whole cloth. His royalties were not negligible, and he was teaching at Harvard, she at Barnard. You left and I was left with this. Of the volumes that descended from Notebook, the poems in History look strongest now, poems where Lowell’s life is held almost at bay, the lines called into being by matters and consequence outside the self. How much of Hardwick’s letters actually appears in The Dolphin? Poet Robert Lowell (Photo by Steve Schapiro/Corbis via Getty Images) The Dolphin Letters, 1970–1979 collects the bulk of the correspondence between Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Hardwick during the torturous years when the writers separated, divorced, and briefly reunited, before Lowell died suddenly in 1977. as if they might have been otherwise, and just as good! Lowell loved too well the frenzy of revision. And out of fairness to her, we also wanted to represent her voice as though she wasn’t just locked in this marital conversation. The letters of those years of turmoil take four times the space of those in the four years remaining before Lowell’s death in 1977. He continued the practice in Notebook and its heirs—and his long-suffering publishers let him. I feel glad to be out of the torment.”, The Lowells were perennially short of money, with scarcely enough for one household, let alone two. What did you notice about the voice that came across in her letters? . Lowell’s new marriage was soon on the rocks. Interest in Lowell’s life, however, remains as strong as during his celebrity heyday, when he graced the cover of TIME magazine and marched on the Pentagon with Norman Mailer.A biography (excellent, by Ian Hamilton), an edition of his letters, and a volume of the … Lowell first married the novelist Jean Stafford, whose face he ruined by driving the family Packard into a brick wall, probably blind drunk. She also refuses to do what comes more easily to others who are feeling it and judging it, which is to excoriate Lowell and cut him off. It’s quite difficult to describe. 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. The two versions of The Dolphin are either too much or not enough. It’s Newton’s fourth law. The Lowells were a Boston Brahmin family that included poets Amy Lowell and James Russell Lowell; clergymen Charles Russell Lowell Sr. and Robert Traill Spence Lowell; Civil War general and war hero Charles Russell Lowell III (about whom Lowell wrote his poem "Charles Russell Lowell: 1835-1864"); and the Federal Judge John Lowell. Hardcover. Poets ever since have labored under the delusion that art is life and life, art—and that poetry begins and ends, in our mealy-mouthed language, in the poet’s truth. This is not my diary, my confession, not a puritan’s too literal pornographic honesty, glad to share private embarrassment, and triumph. Vanity Fair: You’d known Hardwick for years when you started work on this book, yet you never got a chance to talk to her about what you found. Afterward she took his belongings back to her apartment. Are there letters from Blackwood to Lowell that also lie ungathered? He had the right to do with them as he wished.” Not quite. I recently came upon a little letter she wrote to me on some small matter, I can’t remember what it was. $9.89. That’s what I find so interesting and surprising. Obviously another revision, or two, or three came in between, but where and when is not revealed. There are few poems in The Dolphin I’d want to take to a desert island. 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