We Dream of Honour: John Berryman's Letters to His Mother

We Dream of Honour: John Berryman's Letters to His Mother

We Dream of Honour: John Berryman's Letters to His Mother

We Dream of Honour: John Berryman's Letters to His Mother

Excerpt

It is not uncommon for men of literary achievement to have had strong, willful, adoring and possessive mothers—Thackeray, Proust, Hart Crane and Thomas Wolfe are among the writers for whom this was true. But few can have been the object of such lifelong and consuming maternal devotion as was John Berryman. The sheer volume, intensity, and nature of his letters to Mrs. Berryman manifest that, for better and for worse, theirs was the key relationship of his life.

The letters begin in 1928, when Berryman was fourteen and away at preparatory school for the first time, and they end in 1971, less than a year before his death—and just a few months before Mrs. Berryman came to live near him in Minneapolis. In the intervening years, they provide both a remarkably candid account of his often chaotic daily existence and a fascinating record of his thoughts on a wide variety of topics: writing and writers, friends and enemies, wives and lovers, books, religion, politics, his travels, his poetry readings, his increasingly self-destructive drinking, and his father's suicide (when Berryman was eleven), which obsessed him throughout his life. At the same time, they trace, in some detail, his three careers as poet, scholar and teacher.

The first stirrings of the young Berryman's interest in literature are voiced in his letters from South Kent School where, at seventeen, he had already set himself to "develop my own style." His voluminous letters . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.