WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS AND JAMES LAUGHLIN: Selected Letters by Hugh--Ed. Witemeyer

WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS AND JAMES LAUGHLIN: Selected Letters

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A well-prepared, informative, and occasionally raunchy selection of letters between William Carlos Williams and his New Directions publisher James Laughlin. When Laughlin started up New Directions in 1936, he depended upon submissions from Williams to give his list some badly needed clout and visibility. Although Williams had long since secured a major reputation, the poet hadn't established an enduring partnership with any one publisher. Beginning with the publication of White Mule (1936), Laughlin forged a secure business association with Williams that quickly evolved into friendship. Despite the camaraderie and shared sense of purpose between publisher and author, however, practicalities frequently intervened to make the friendship an unstable one. Williams often complained that his work wasn't being advertised, marketed, or distributed properly--though it's clear from Laughlin's responses that New Directions knew exactly what it was doing. Inevitably, though, Williams jumped ship in the 1950's for a deal with Random House, a move that understandably annoyed Laughlin, who had gambled heavily on the marginally profitable work of his authors, Williams included. However, in the late 50's, Williams returned to New Directions and remained with the house until his death in 1963. An engaging dialogue--with an above-average quota of wit and information. Highlights here include uncut gossip about contemporaries, Pound's postwar reputation, and Williams' view of modern poetry. Of value to scholars, collectors, serious readers--and anyone interested in the culture of literary production.

Pub Date: Sept. 18th, 1989
Publisher: Norton