HALF REMEMBERED: A Personal History by Peter Davison

HALF REMEMBERED: A Personal History

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I had been something of a slave to the past, dragging it around with me like my grandfather's made-over suits"" or as Mark Twain put it -- biographies are ""but the clothes and buttons of the man -- the biography of the man himself cannot be written."" Haberdashery aside, Mr. Davison comes very close to it autobiographically since he is particularly interested in his long, interior struggle to get away from home -- long after he had left it -- and to dispose of his own need for the parental sanctions he required but resented. Half Remembered at forty, well remembered in insets which naturally divide off just about by decades, and the memoir begins with the early years in Colorado (his father was a lecturer-poet-teacher who instilled in him a love for the English language) and the still vividly overheard quarrels which took place between his parents; he went to Harvard then spent a year at Cambridge (throughout there are spot touches of J. B. Priestley, Santayana, Ford Madox Ford, et al.) before he went into publishing -- five years in New York and finally Boston and the Atlantic Monthly Press where he is the director. Three years of psychoanalysis finally helped to overcome both his inability to write and his incapacity to love -- ""poetry was genetic"" inherited from his father while his talent was also shaped by Robert Frost whom he considers America's greatest poet as well as his greatest teacher. At the end, with his parents' deaths he has accomplished his release -- corroborated here, as well as invested with integrity and feeling and a thoughtful turn of mind. Beyond its automatic interest (the writer-editor venue) Davison's story is prepossessing in its candor and fallibility, comparable to say Harding Lemay's Inside Looking Out (1971).

Pub Date: Aug. 22nd, 1973
Publisher: Harper & Row