Far from Home: Selected Letters of William Humphrey

Far from Home: Selected Letters of William Humphrey

by Ashby Bland Crowder (Editor)


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Often compared to William Faulkner, renowned American writer William Humphrey (1924–1997) sought to shatter myths about the South in such acclaimed novels as Home from the Hill, The Ordways, and Proud Flesh, and in his voluminous short stories, critical essays, and memoirs. This collection of Humphrey’s best letters deserves space on the bookshelf alongside these earlier works. Beginning in the 1940s when, as a true starving artist, he wore borrowed clothes and could afford only one meal a day, the letters move to his time as a goatherd, his stint as a teacher at Bard College, and his middle years in Europe. They continue as he returns to America and teaches at Washington and Lee, MIT, Princeton, and Smith, and decrease in number as his health declines in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Humphrey corresponded with some of the central figures in the literary and intellectual life of the twentieth century, including writ­ers such as Katherine Anne Porter and Leonard Woolf, and the publishers Alfred and Blanche Knopf. These letters present a vivid picture of Humphrey as he provides commentary on his contemporaries through personal observations combined with sharp critical judgments. Hum­phrey amuses readers with witty anecdotes and charming tales, including a hilarious account of Christmas dinner with Robert Lowell, a story about British intellectual Cyril Connolly’s near arrest in New York City, and a series of enchant­ing misunderstandings between Humphrey and his French publisher.

The letters also provide remarkable insights into Humphrey’s own works, showing him to be a man happiest when he forgot about himself also prone to plunging into despondency. The correspondence unforgettably reveals his trou­bled soul and his life as a quintessential artist: a man with the unswerving drive to make a lasting contribution to American literature.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807132722
Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
Publication date: 01/01/2008
Series: Southern Literary Studies
Pages: 280
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Ashby Bland Crowder is the author of Wakeful Anguish: A Literary Biography of William Humphrey and numerous other works of literary criticism. He is M. E. and Ima Graves Peace Professor Emeritus of English, American Literature, and the Humanities at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas.

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