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The Republic of Letters in America

The Republic of Letters in America: The Correspondence of John Peale Bishop and Allen Tate

Thomas Daniel Young
John J. Hindle
Copyright Date: 1981
Pages: 240
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130jc5g
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  • Book Info
    The Republic of Letters in America
    Book Description:

    The correspondence of John Peale Bishop and Allen Tate, extending from 1929 to the time of Bishop's death in 1944, embraces the period of the Great Depression and the coming of World War II. In that richly eventful period in the development of American literature, these two men of letters were continually exchanging news and comment about the activities, opinions, successes, and misadventures of poets, novelists, critics, publishers, and editors; about expatriate Americans in Europe and the quickening intellectual life of New York; and about the Agrarian movement and what was later to be called the Southern Renascence. Archibald MacLeish, Ernest Hemingway, Robert Penn Warren, John Crowe Ransom, Katherine Anne Porter, Maxwell Perkins, Hart Crane, Malcolm Cowley, Scott Fitzgerald -- all are subjects of comment, both personal and artistic. The respect and affection of both writers for Edmund Wilson survived their vehement political differences with him, and their exchange of literary criticism, advice, and encouragement with Wilson continued unabated.

    The letters record a warm and steady friendship, as well as a literary relationship in which Tate -- though the younger man -- is clearly the mentor. The freedom with which Tate and Bishop discuss their work in progress, and the care and candor with which they comment on one another's poems and stories, offer the reader of this carefully edited correspondence revealing glimpses of the creative process and the reality of the American "republic of letters" in their time.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6500-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-10)

    Few writers of the twentieth century have been so profoundly dedicated to the vocation of letters as was Allen Tate. A young English poet publishing his first poem in an obscure little magazine received from Tate a few days after the poem appeared a letter of commendation and detailed comment on the strengths and weaknesses of the poem. Moved that an established man of letters would devote so much attention to the work of a novice, this young poet (Geoffrey Hill) pursued his craft with increased diligence and confidence. It is clear, as Lewis P. Simpson has pointed out, that...

  5. 1929-1934
    (pp. 11-108)

    After their introduction on September 23, 1925, an event over-shadowed in Tate’s memory of that day by the birth of his daughter, Bishop and Tate did not meet again until1928, in Paris, where their friendship truly began. Tate was working in France that year on a Guggenheim fellowship and was accompanied by his wife, Caroline Gordon. Bishop and his family had taken up permanent residence in a chateau near Paris in 1926, where they lived until1933, six months after the Tates returned from a second sojourn in France. The correspondence begins in 1929, while Tate was still in Paris, and...

  6. 1934-1939
    (pp. 109-154)

    Following Tate’s assumption of an academic career and Bishop’s completion ofAct of Darkness,his only published novel, their courses ran parallel for a time, then began to diverge, as the letters of these years show. Bishop followed his novel with a book of poems,Minute Particulars(1935), while Tate, having thrown over his “ancestry book,” began work on his first critical volume,Reactionary Essays(1936). Spending his summers in Clarksville, Tate laments in 1935 that “it was fatal to live in a city [Memphis] for a year; it threw me off my routine, and now my routine throws me...

  7. 1939-1944
    (pp. 155-221)

    After Tate’s accession to the resident poet’s chair in the Princeton Creative Arts Program, and after Bishop’s appointment as the chief poetry reviewer forThe Nation,the frequency of their contact increased markedly, as this last section of the correspondence shows. When Tate invited Bishop to appear as a guest in a lecture series at Princeton early in 1940, he urged him to bring along his current and past poetry manuscripts, and the two men spent much of Bishop's visit planning an edition of his selected poetry, which Tate successfully urged Maxwell Perkins to publish.

    Early in 1941 Bishop took...

  8. CHRONOLOGIES
    (pp. 222-226)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 227-232)