SELECTED LETTERS by Witter Bynner

SELECTED LETTERS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Fifth in the series of Bynner's collected works--poems, prose, translations--these letters reach from an acquaintanceship with Henry James to one with Buck-minster Fuller. Among the highlights (for better or worse): a portrait of the dying sculptor St. Gaudens (in whose house young Witter lived for a time); an account of the Spectra hoax (poems submitted by Bynner and Arthur Ficke to Imagist journals under the names ""Emmanuel Morgan"" and ""Anna Knish""); references to Bynner's translation of Chinese poetry; and an altogether unfortunate appraisal of poets who, as of 1935, Bynner was positive were bound for posterity (they included Ralph Hodgson, Fredrick Goddard Tuckerman, and Horatio Colony). But of keenest interest are Bynner's letters to and about D. H. Lawrence. Travelers-together, near-neighbors in New Mexico, the two got along only warily; Bynner, in a letter to someone else, notes insightfully (at the time) that Lawrence is ""a sort cf Freudian prig--anything but immoral. . . . Give me a promiscuous lover anytime instead of a promiscuous hater. . . . He ought to have been a bird or an animal--or, at least, a naturalist. Think of him again, from that point of view. Think of him waking up in the dawn without his beautiful claws or feathers and, because of his condition, hating humanity afresh each day."" Apart from the Lawrenciana, however, these letters are fairly tangential literary documents--of primary appeal as complements to the rest of the Bynner writings.

Pub Date: July 28th, 1981
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux