THE SELECTED LETTERS OF WILLIAM COWPER by Mark- Ed Van Doren

THE SELECTED LETTERS OF WILLIAM COWPER

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A labor of love, perhaps, for it seems difficult to believe that an extensive market can be found for Cowper's letters in this 20th century, except in departments of literature, and among college and university libraries. However, as the second volume in the Great Letter Series (under the general editorship of Louis Kronenberger), Cowper deserves a significant place. Today he can live chiefly through his letters, and this judicious selection reveals how vitally they are the man. His life, sketched in an excellent Introduction by Mark Van Doren, was a tragic one, darkened by mental disturbance, intensified by an abnormal religious obsession. His profession in law never a harmonious one; his marriage was blocked by his father; his years were lived out among close friends, and his genius for friendship- among both men and women- sustained his being. It is this his letters reveal; this and the complexity of his character, its late maturing, his gift of humor, his adroit harmony of phrase. There is little of current happenings (a glimpse of his feelings about the loss of the American colonies); little of famous names; much of his friends and himself. They are rewarding reading, though not for everyone.

Pub Date: Aug. 31st, 1951
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Young