Rudyard Kipling’s creations in verse and prose are among the most familiar in the English language. It would be difficult to shield a child in any Anglophone country from Mowgli’s exploits among the wolves, or from an explanation of how the leopard got his spots. Many teenagers are still exposed to the hammering exhortations of “If—,” recently voted the most popular poem in Great Britain:If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
The rage of a great American novelist
If there is a secret lurking in Cather’s correspondence, it might be this: her best writing, certainly in her letters and in much of her fiction, is driven by anger.
What might a heroic life in the world of traditional crafts have looked like during the twentieth century? The question almost seems absurd. Isn’t heroism the exact opposite of the modesty and even anonymity that we associate with handmade craft objects? Aren’t the potter and the weaver meant to be so fully absorbed in folk traditions as to all but disappear in the process of making humble things for daily use?
Eliot's Letters from 1926-1927
Now that we know so much about Eliot, are we still so curious about him?
Unlikely Collaboration: Gertrude Stein, Bernard Faÿ, and the Vichy DilemmaBy Barbara Will (Columbia University Press, 274 pp., $35) IdaBy Gertrude Stein Edited by Logan Esdale (Yale University Press, 348 pp., $20) Stanzas in Meditation: The Corrected EditionBy Gertrude Stein Edited by Susannah Hollister and Emily Setina (Yale University Press, 379 pp., $22) ON SEPTEMBER 29, 1951, an oddly dressed young woman appeared in an alley adjacent to the municipal hospital in Angers, a town southwest of Paris.
“Something Urgent I Have to Say to You”: The Life and Works of William Carlos WilliamsBy Herbert Leibowitz (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 496 pp., $40) William Carlos Williams, among the most aggressively American poets since Walt Whitman, was born in Rutherford, New Jersey, in 1883, to a Puerto Rican mother and an English father, neither of whom bothered to become American citizens after their transplantation from the Caribbean to the poisonous industrial marshes west of Manhattan.
“Tranströmer!” Of course, I knew immediately what the email message meant. After years of waiting among the also-rans, and amid speculation that this was the year for an Arab poet to win the Nobel Prize in Literature to honor the Arab Spring, or maybe, a late-breaking rumor, that Bob Dylan was the bettors’ choice, a Swede was named to win the Swedish prize.
Richard Wilbur, among our most distinguished living poets and a longtime contributor to this magazine, celebrates his ninetieth birthday on March 1 of this year. As the snows of Wilbur’s western New England were slowly yielding to auguries of spring, I found myself thinking, on this portentous event, of a passage from his poem “The Event,” in which he tries to fix in words the elusive significance of a swirling flight of birds. Let that be the image on this birthday card for Wilbur, with the first eight lines of the poem for inscribed text, culminating in a wondrous and multifaceted simile
Under the Sun: The Letters of Bruce Chatwin Selected and edited by Elizabeth Chatwin and Nicholas Shakespeare (Viking, 554 pp., $35) The expression “to embroider the truth” was already current when Sir Walter Raleigh—no mean embroiderer himself—complained about the exaggerations of Greek travelers such as Herodotus. But it could have been invented for the English writer and self-styled nomad Bruce Chatwin instead.