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Out of My Bone: The Letters of Joy Davidman Hardcover – June 19, 2009
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In this delightful and beautifully produced volume, Prof. King introduces, presents and unobtrusively annotates Davidmans collected letters, which span a period of twenty-four years, from 1936 to her death in 1960. . . . The portrait Davidmans letters paint is scintillating and many-layered, and displays the entire palette of a mind that Lewis justly described as lithe and quick and muscular as a leopard. Don Kings clear introduction and apparatus, and his pertinent, learned and unobtrusive annotations, make this a volume equally useful to the scholar and the general reader. It cannot be recommended warmly enough.
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The first letters were written in 1936; at age 21, she already has a master's degree from Columbia and is corresponding about her poetic aspirations with Stephen Vincent Benét. This brings up a notable feature of the collection: it is designed for lay readers as well as literary types. The editor provides footnotes that give basic information on virtually all correspondents. If you don't happen to know the import of Benét in his time --- a Pulitzer Prize winner --- it's laid out for you right at the bottom of the page.
By age 30, she is a prize-winning poet and has published her first novel. She's a member of the Communist Party and an editor for its American magazine New Masses. She has married a fellow writer and Communist, William Lindsay Gresham, and is a mother. Many of the early letters focus on her own writing pursuits and also reveal her as a no-nonsense editorial mentor-critic. For example, she is quoted as saying, "What the words do not contain, you cannot add with punctuation.Read more ›
"Out of My Bone" is largely a collection of letters written by (and, in a few cases, received by) Davidman, arranged chronologically. King has included in this volume a helpful introduction as well as numerous notes that help to provide a context for many of the letters. While she does mention Lewis several times in these letters, readers who want to see a collection of love letters between Lewis and Davidman will be disappointed: They aren't included in this volume (and aren't likely to be published, even if some still exist). But readers who want to get to know Davidman better will definitely find this collection of letters interesting and valuable. Davidman's personality shines forth in her letters--particularly those with her Douglas Gresham, her ex-husband and the father of her two sons. Readers interested in Davidman's story of her spiritual journey (from secular Jew to atheist and Communist and then to Christian) will also enjoy reading this collection of letters.
Joy drank beer, and complained when there was not enough of it to her liking. She wrote fierce poetry. She showed courage in the face of an economic depression, a painful divorce, World War II, McCarthyism, and cancer. Her letters to family and friends show a constant display of strength, almost to the point of harshness. This was the woman who won C.S. Lewis' heart!
This cheering book, at times, makes me laugh at not only Joy's irony, but God's. She remarks in one letter "Jack's juveniles [the Narnian series including The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader] have a small steady sale . . . but we'll never get rich from those . . . the good thing is that they don't dwindle with time - but I think it's only the most successful juveniles that go on forever." While downplaying her cancer, she remarks about nasties such as financial nightmares and the fact that mild intestinal flu played hell with her beer-drinking! There is even a picture of Joy in 1958, wearing pants and wielding an air rifle!
While tea and shortbread have their place, Joy shows the very joy in beer, laughter, intellectual pursuits, and sheer chutzpah!Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
After reading CS Lewis this was interesting as a read to follow through for further information on Joy and the transformation from her life pre conversion to how she treated people... Read morePublished on November 26, 2011 by Felicia
I've studied C.S. Lewis (and The Inklings), enjoyed Shadowlands, and of course was curious about Davidman. Read morePublished on February 14, 2011 by FYI
I found this collection of the letters of Joy Davidman to be extremely interesting. I was thrilled to gain the insight into her dramatic life. Dr. Read morePublished on September 27, 2010 by Mary Smaw