The Dolphin Letters, 1970-1979: Elizabeth Hardwick, Robert Lowell, and Their Circle

The Dolphin Letters, 1970-1979: Elizabeth Hardwick, Robert Lowell, and Their Circle

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Overview

The correspondence between one of the most famous couples of twentieth-century literature

The Dolphin Letters offers an unprecedented portrait of Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Hardwick during the last seven years of Lowell’s life (1970 to 1977), a time of personal crisis and creative innovation for both writers. Centered on the letters they exchanged with each other and with other members of their circle—writers, intellectuals, friends, and publishers, including Elizabeth Bishop, Caroline Blackwood, Mary McCarthy, and Adrienne Rich—the book has the narrative sweep of a novel, telling the story of the dramatic breakup of their twenty-one-year marriage and their extraordinary, but late, reconciliation.

Lowell’s controversial sonnet-sequence The Dolphin (for which he used Hardwick’s letters as a source) and his last book, Day by Day, were written during this period, as were Hardwick’s influential books Seduction and Betrayal: Essays on Women in Literature and Sleepless Nights: A Novel. Lowell and Hardwick are acutely intelligent observers of marriages, children, and friends, and of the feelings that their personal crises gave rise to.

The Dolphin Letters, masterfully edited by Saskia Hamilton, is a debate about the limits of art—what occasions a work of art, what moral and artistic license artists have to make use of their lives as material, what formal innovations such debates give rise to. The crisis of Lowell’s The Dolphin was profoundly affecting to everyone surrounding him, and Bishop’s warning to Lowell—“art just isn’t worth that much”—haunts.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374717933
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 12/10/2019
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 560
Sales rank: 281,637
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Elizabeth Hardwick (1915-2007) was a literary critic, a novelist, and one of the founders of The New York Review of Books. She is the author of Sleepless Nights and two other novels, a biography of Herman Melville, and four collections of essays, including Seduction and Betrayal, a study of women in literature.

Robert Lowell (1917–1977) was the renowned and controversial author of many books of poetry, including Day by Day (FSG, 1977), For the Union Dead (FSG, 1964), and Life Studies (FSG, 1959).

Saskia Hamilton is the author of three books of poetry, including Corridor, named one of the best poetry books of 2014 by The New Yorker and The New York Times Book Review. She is the editor of The Letters of Robert Lowell and coeditor of Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell. She teaches at Barnard College.


Robert Lowell (1917-1977) was the renowned and controversial author of many books of poetry, including Day by Day, The Dolphin, and History. FSG also published his Collected Prose in 1987.
Saskia Hamilton is the author of several books of poetry, including Corridor, named one of the best poetry books of 2014 by The New Yorker and The New York Times Book Review. She is the editor of The Letters of Robert Lowell and coeditor of Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell. She teaches at Barnard College.

Table of Contents

Introduction
Location of Manuscripts
A Note on the Text and Annotation
Table of Dates, 1970-1977

THE DOLPHIN LETTERS
Part I: 1970
Part II: 1971-1972
Part III: 1973
Part IV: 1974-1979

“Writing a Novel” by Elizabeth Hardwick
“Cal working, etc.” by Elizabeth Hardwick
Acknowledgments
Index

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