The Letters of Ernest Hemingway: Volume I, 1907-1922 Edited by Sandra Spanier and Robert W. Trogdon (Cambridge University Press, 431 pp., $40) Hemingway: A Life in Pictures By Boris Vejdovsky with Mariel Hemingway (Firefly Books, 207 pp., $29.95) With a flourish of publicity and as much shameless hype as one of the oldest and most prestigious academic publishers in the world can get away with, the first of an estimated sixteen volumes of Ernest Hemingway’s correspondence has been released.
“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.
W.B. Yeats & George Yeats: The Letters Edited by Ann Saddlemyer (Oxford University Press, 599 pp., $49.95) Words Alone: Yeats & his Inheritances By R.F. Foster (Oxford University Press, 236 pp., $29.95) IT WAS CERTAINLY an odd marriage. The groom, already a well-known Irish poet, was fifty-two, the bride twenty-four. The groom had proposed to two other women immediately before settling for the bride, a well-bred young Englishwoman whom he had known for several years and with whom he shared occult interests.
There are many ways to prop up a currency artificially. “We’re wrestling with the same stuff as Rilke,” Bono recently told The New York Times about Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, the hapless Broadway wonder for which he collaborated on the music. More specifically, “Rilke, Blake, ‘Wings of Desire,’ Roy Lichtenstein, the Ramones.” I was not previously aware of the Rilkean elements in “Rockaway Beach.” Those elements Bono characterized as “the cost of feeling feelings,” which throws the Blakean dimension into question, but never mind. Precision is really not the point.
I was telling my friend I was planning to write about how we see time. This was on my mind because of some pictures I saw in The New York Times of the remains of an eighteenth-century wooden ship that had been unearthed by construction workers at the World Trade Center site 30 feet below ground.
The Letters of T.S. Eliot: Volume 1 (1898–1922) Edited by Valerie Eliot and Hugh Haughton (Faber and Faber, 871 pp., £35) The Letters of T.S. Eliot: Volume 2 (1923–25) Edited by Valerie Eliot and Hugh Haughton (Faber and Faber, 878 pp., £35) In these two volumes we find more than 1,600 pages of letters and T.S. Eliot is not yet forty.
Classical Chinese Poetry: An Anthology Translated and edited by David Hinton (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 475 pp., $45) Du Fu: A Life in Poetry Translated by David Young (Knopf, 226 pp., $16.95) The oldest poems translated in David Hinton’s magnificent anthology Classical Chinese Poetry date to the fifteenth century B.C.E., long before the Bible was written. For the English-speaking world, however, this ancient art is effectively less than a hundred years old.
The Notebooks of Robert Frost Edited by Robert Faggen (Harvard University Press, 792 pp., $39.95) ROBERT FROST'S POETRY is full of actions taken on obscure impulse. A man reins in his horse on "the darkest evening of the year" to watch the woods fill up with snow. Why does he interrupt his journey? "The woods are lovely, dark and deep." Another man hesitates where "two roads diverged in a yellow wood" and takes "the one less traveled by." These poems are so familiar that it is almost painful to quote them. Others less well known are no less driven by impulse.
Sappho: A Garland The Poems and Fragments of Sappho Translated by Jim Powell (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 65 pp., $15) The Laughter of Aphrodite: A Novel about Sappho of Lesbos By Peter Green (University of California Press, 274 pp., $22) The "garland" of Jim Powell's felicitous translation of Sappho is a tattered remnant. It might well have been subtitled The Poem and Fragments of Sappho, for there is only one poem in the book that we can be reasonably sure is complete, the playful summons to Aphrodite that stands at its head. There is one other poem—the famous description of the physical
Tragedy: Shakespeare and the Greek Example by Adrian Poole Everyone assumes that they know what tragedy means; the problem comes in trying to define it. One thing is certain: it is a uniquely Western phenomenon.