The Dolphin Letters, 1970–1979

The Dolphin Letters, 1970–1979

ISBN
9780571357413
Published
16/01/2020
9780571357413
Format
Hardback
Price
£35.00
Paperback
560

About the Book

The Dolphin Letters offers an unprecedented portrait of Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Hardwick during the last seven years of Lowell’s life (1970 to 1977), a time of personal crisis and creative innovation for both writers. Centred on the letters they exchanged with each other and with other members of their circle – writers, intellectuals, friends and publishers, including Elizabeth Bishop, Caroline Blackwood, Mary McCarthy and Adrienne Rich – this book has the narrative sweep of a novel, telling the story of the dramatic breakup of Lowell and Hardwick's twenty-one-year marriage and their extraordinary, but late, reconciliation.

Lowell’s sonnet sequence The Dolphin (for which he controversially adapted Hardwick’s letters as a source) and his last book, Day by Day, were written during this period, as were Hardwick’s influential books Seduction and Betrayal: Women and Literature and Sleepless Nights. Lowell and Hardwick are acutely intelligent observers of marriage, children, friends and the feelings that their personal tribulations gave rise to.

The Dolphin Letters, edited by Saskia Hamilton, is a debate about the limits of art – what occasions a work of art, and what moral and artistic licence artists have to make use of their lives and the lives of others as material. The crisis of Lowell’s The Dolphin was profoundly affecting to everyone around him, and Bishop’s warning that ‘art just isn’t worth that much’ haunts us today.

The Dolphin Letters offers an unprecedented portrait of Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Hardwick during the last seven years of Lowell’s life (1970 to 1977), a time of personal crisis and creative innovation for both writers. Centred on the letters they exchanged with each other and with other members of their circle – writers, intellectuals, friends and publishers, including Elizabeth Bishop, Caroline Blackwood, Mary McCarthy and Adrienne Rich – this book has the narrative sweep of a novel, telling the story of the dramatic breakup of Lowell and Hardwick's twenty-one-year marriage and their extraordinary, but late, reconciliation.Lowell’s sonnet sequence The Dolphin (for which he controversially adapted Hardwick’s letters as a source) and his last book, Day by Day, were written during this period, as were Hardwick’s influential books Seduction and Betrayal: Women and Literature and Sleepless Nights. Lowell and Hardwick are acutely intelligent observers of marriage, children, friends and the feelings that their personal tribulations gave rise to.The Dolphin Letters, edited by Saskia Hamilton, is a debate about the limits of art – what occasions a work of art, and what moral and artistic licence artists have to make use of their lives and the lives of others as material. The crisis of Lowell’s The Dolphin was profoundly affecting to everyone around him, and Bishop’s warning that ‘art just isn’t worth that much’ haunts us today.
  • Robert Lowell

    Robert Lowell (1917-1977) was born in Boston. He was recognised as an accomplished poet in his own lifetime, and along with Elizabeth Bishop, John Berryman and Sylvia Plath he created the fashion and generated the force of American poetry over the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. Life Studies, published in 1959, marked a watershed. It initiated an autobiographical project which would dominate his oeuvre thereafter, and is now regarded as one of the most influential books of the century. He received a Pulitzer Prize for Lord Weary's Castle (1946) and another for The Dolphin (1973).

  • Edited By: Saskia Hamilton

    Saskia Hamilton is the editor of The Letters of Robert Lowell and the co-editor (with Thomas Travisano) of Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell, and is the author of As for Dream, Divide These, and, in the UK, Canal: New and Selected Poems. She is Associate Professor of English at Barnard College, Columbia University, and lives in New York City.

Books by this Author

Words in Air

Words in Air

Robert Lowell
Elizabeth Bishop

Robert Lowell

Robert Lowell

Robert Lowell

Collected Poems

Collected Poems

Robert Lowell

Life Studies

Life Studies

Robert Lowell