Louise Bogan's letters are so full of pithy observations (Henry James ""says that the real test of a real feeling for writing is a passion for adverbs. . . That shows the difference between a prose-writer, even a great prose-writer, and a lyric poet. You can't be a lyric poet and love adverbs""), of personal drama (""The loss of face is the worst thing that can happen to anyone, man or woman. . . And believe me, the only way to get it back is to put your back against the wall and fight for it. . . And when, this last time, I couldn't free myself by my own will, because my will was suffering from a disease peculiar to it, I went to the mad-house for six months, under my own steam, mind you, for no one sent me there, and I got free""), of bright bitchy remarks on friend or foe (Mary McCarthy is one of those ""pure narcissistic types. . . How shut up she is in Mary!""), of gossipy, candid, even distressing reports of literary rivalries or power-plays, that simply as a chronicle of cultural history in America from 1920 to 1970 the publication of her correspondence (which, ironically enough, judging by her many references to privacy she may never really have wanted) is sure to have the effect of a cause celebre. For decades the poetry critic of The New Yorker, a Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, and one of the better lyric poets of her era, the late Miss Bogan writes with veracity and wit, a darkening of the spirit here and there (her manic-depressive phases, her institutionalizations at hospitals), and, above all, extreme independence.