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Elizabeth Bishop: Poems, Prose and Letters (Library of America) Hardcover – February 14, 2008
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The best introduction to Bishop's work, however, is still "The Complete Poems, 1927 - 1979," supplemented by the best pieces in "The Collected Prose" (1984), edited by Robert Giroux, who is also co-editor of the present Library of America book and editor of "One Art" (1994), the mammoth selection of Bishop's letters. The earlier editions of her poems and prose were published in an era when editors still respected Bishop's excellent judgment about which of her poems and prose pieces should appear in print. Bishop was her own best editor, and I don't think the publication of so many of her abortive poems serves her particularly well.
My main criticism of this book has to do with the "Letters" section. As with the Library of America edition of Flannery O'Connor's writing, this selection offers letters not available in "One Art" (or in O'Connor's case, "The Habit of Being"); but the Library of America edition does not supersede "One Art" because it offers fewer letters in total. Both O'Connor and Bishop were epistolary geniuses on the level of Keats and Hopkins and we deserve editions of their letters that aspire to comprehensiveness. There is a new edition of Bishop's correspondence with Lowell on the way, but what about her letters to Marianne Moore, May Swenson, and other friends with whom she had significant correspondences?Read more ›
We get here the 4 major collections of poetry that Bishop published, along with some uncollected poems. NORTH AND SOUTH was published in 1946, but most of the poems predate the war (or at least American involvement in it) and reflect Bishop's development as a poet through the 1930s and very early 1940s. From the very first poem, "The Map", we find Bishop's distinctive concern with describing specific scenes in detail, that then give way to some kind of universal, transcendental experience. After various musings on the printers' layout of the eponymous map, the poem ends: "Mapped waters are more quiet than the land is, / lending the land their waves' own conformation: / and Norway's hare runs south in agitation, / profiles investigate the sea, where land is. / Are they assigned, or can the countries pick their colors? / -- What suits the characters or the native waters best. / Topography displays no favorites; North's as near as West. / More delicate than the historians' are the map-makers' colors."
The second collection, A COLD SPRING, consists of poems written in the 1940s and early 1950s.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A brilliant compilation of the prose by Bishop we love, along with some fascinating unpublished pieces and other surprises.Published 12 months ago by Michelle R. Monroe
I have to say that "The Farmer's Children" by Elizabeth Bishop is probably the most profound short story that I ever read. It's much like the prose of Joyce Carol Oates. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Aaron VanAlstine
20 May 2013
Maragret Thatcher was born and raised in England. Read more
I got this book for my sister as a gift and she absolutely loves it. It is a nice compilation of Elizabeth Bishop's work put out as part of a series of great authors by the... Read morePublished on May 15, 2008 by Stacee Clayton