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Letters of Ted Hughes (English Edition) [Kindle Edition]

Ted Hughes , Christopher Reid

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“No other English poet's letters, not even Keats's, unparalleled as they are, take us so intimately into the wellsprings of his own art.” ―JOHN CAREY, The Sunday Times


At the outset of his career Ted Hughes described letter writing as 'excellent training for conversation with the world', and he was to become a prolific master of this art. This selection begins when Hughes was seventeen, and documents the course of a life at once resolutely private but intensely attuned to others. It is a fascinatingly detailed picture of a mind of genius as it evolved through an incomparably eventful life and career.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 5108 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 787 Seiten
  • ISBN-Quelle für Seitenzahl: 0571221394
  • Verlag: Faber & Faber Poetry; Auflage: Main (7. April 2011)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B004Y443AG
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Nicht aktiviert
  • Verbesserter Schriftsatz: Nicht aktiviert
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #995.411 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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5.0 von 5 Sternen The rest is posthumous 9. Dezember 2008
Von Amazon Customer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Just as Sylvia Plath's journals and letters home construct an autobiography of her, The Letters of Ted Hughes form a partial autobiography of him. The poems in Crow changed the way I viewed him as a poet; and Nick Gammage's The Epic Poise changed the way I viewed him as a man. These letters continue to evolve the image of Ted Hughes, which frankly had nowhere to go but up. Occasionally I asked myself, "Should I be reading these?", just as I ask myself that same question when I regularly read Plath's journals and letters. But the answer is always, "Yes."

This book, the first of its kind for a man who was known to be a very private person, further opens Ted Hughes. Similarly, in some way, to those "raw and unguarded" Birthday Letters. When Hughes sold his archive to Atlanta, he allowed for the demolition of that private wall he had built up around him. His archives are open in Atlanta, and another will be in the coming year in London, allowing further access into his life and his mind. Perhaps these letters, selected and edited by Christopher Reid, are not as candid as his private journals are, but over the many decades of Hugheses writing life, these letters show many phases of this controversial man. They make for fascinating reading and remind me of what a good writer he was. Throughout the book, Hughes constantly looks back and what had had done - creatively - and talks about what he should (or could) have done. I wonder if his late confession that writing and publishing Birthday Letters really did free him? Being on this end of the creative process allows for a unique perspective into Hugheses writing habits, publishing habits, etc. We're on the outside looking in; while at the same time on the inside looking out. Hughes was always amenable to collaboration, most successfully with Fay Goodwin in The Remains of Elmet and Seamus Heaney in The Rattle Bag and The School Bag. But, one wonders if the collaboration was done as a distraction, or a way to avoid certain things, or if he hoped it would spawn poems. But, from all this wonderful correspondence, the one major selling point - to peanut crunchers like you and like me, is the life, death, and afterlife of his first wife, Sylvia Plath.

The love letters to Sylvia Plath are beautiful. It makes one wish their courtship was longer. In a world of short & staccato emails and incomprehensible & abbreviated text messages, it is reassuring to read actual love letters. However, from the height of this courtship, the letters reach their nadir in the late summer 1962 letter to his sister, Olwyn Hughes, where the discussion focuses on his need for cash, to "swell a private account." This is a far, far cry from the letters addressed to his "kish and puss and ponk." And the letter from September 1962, also to Olwyn, is one of those curious ones sent maybe from London by Alvarez or someone else, when he may have been in Spain already with Assia Wevill. From 1963 until the end of his life, the letters to Plath's family or friends, those regarding Plath publications, and Hughes' attitudes about Plath the poet and Plath the person make revelatory reading. For those whose only knowledge of their relationship was through biographies or even through the poems in Birthday Letters, the gains in understanding may be incalculable. Any letter included in this volume regarding Sylvia Plath should help to understand certain decisions and attitudes held and made by the Estate. If there are more letters out there, we can hope they too will be published or come to view, as well.

The letters to Assia Wevill never quite match the passion of those to Sylvia Plath, but the nature of the relationship was so different that comparing them seems unfair. These letter say to me that she was just the other woman. Fortunately there is material about her (A Lover of Unreason) that does give her more presence. The letters from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s are fascinating, and there are spikes of interest that where the topic is Plath publications, biographies, and controversies.

A huge change occurs in letters of 1997 and 1998. Hughes really begins to open up autobiographically. And, in particular, the letters just before and after the publication of Birthday Letters leading up to the last one are extraordinary. I found his surprise at the response and reaction to publishing Birthday Letters to be genuine; but that being said, I cannot fathom what would have happened had he published them sooner. The 1970s were marred by the rise of feminism; the "letters" just would not have been accepted. This carried into the 1980s when her Collected Poems & Journals were published. The later 1980s and early 1990s saw the rise of the Plath biography machine; making his own story seem defensive in a way; they could have been read as a corrective and would not have helped much. So, the timing being what it was, was just about perfect; it is unfortunate that he was declining in health. By 1998, things had quieted down enough to make the reception optimal. And, it worked.

The best letters selected show Hughes supporting other poets & collaborating with a variety of artists and those to Frieda and Nicholas. His love for fishing is evident in the many letters on this topic and make - to my surprise - probably the most interesting reading. They show his most natural talent for detail, description, communicating, and living. The photographs portray those closest to Hughes, and of particular interest were photographs of Frieda and Nicholas. Seeing them with their mother as babies, it was astonishing to see them as toddlers, children, and young adults. Frieda has been more of a public figure than Nicholas, and while I respect both of their rights to privacy, I could not help being moved in the photograph of Nicholas and the Pike. Afterall, he was "the one solid the spaces lean on, envious."

Though many letters are already held in archives, seeing them in a single volume makes for enlightening reading. However autobiographical they are, Christopher Reid is in the role of storyteller through his selecting and editing of these letters. The notes indicate many instances where text is missing, and one wonders what letters were not selected and what they may - or may not - add to this one-way life of the poet. Reid's notes, which follow many letters and introduce many "chapters" are informative and occasionally witty (I believe in text messaging this would be LOL & a smiley face). A nice touch. As someone who knew Hughes and worked with him, I wonder how much influence his image of Ted Hughes played in the selection? Regardless of any possible bias that may have gone into the selection, The Letters of Ted Hughes appears to me to be well-balanced.

To those who contributed to the volume: a big thank you. Perhaps one day another collected edition of letters will be published, allowing for a deeper understanding of this man and opening up new layers and connections to 20th century poetry. Throughout the book, letters mentioning Sylvia Plath of course piqued my interest. It was challenging not to jump to the index and read these first. But, the whole story is worth waiting for, so I recommend reading the book from start to finish. It is a moving experience. And then go back as necessary to re-read letters by person or by year or whatever. That being said, there is so much in this 756 page book that reading the letters straight through almost cheats the reader of absorbing everything. This book will be a valuable resource for those interested in the Plath/Hughes story and I hope that upon re-reading certain letters, more can be discerned & known about his side of the story.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen History is Not Done With Hughes 12. Januar 2009
Von Michael Salcman - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
The first draft of history (i.e. journalism) has not been kind to Ted Hughes, but he has little to worry about. When the Complete Poems came out, the review in Poetry magazine made the plausible argument that Hughes is the greatest poet in English since Shakespeare. In addition to a controversial book on the man he called Shakes, Hughes wrote more than 40 volumes of poetry, criticism, stage and radio plays, classical translations, children's books, and anthologies. In the years since his death, complete editions of his efforts in many of these disciplines have appeared, in England first and in the US subsequently. Now we are presented with a Selected Letters by his editor Christopher Reid; these have been chosen from more than 3000 written with great verve and intensity to a number of close friends, fans, students, and any number of the great and famous. It is an astonishing book.

For poets and writers not poisoned by the views of American feminists who have thoroughly martyrized his first wife, the letters provide an opportunity to truly hear the intimate voice of a special artist and eavesdrop on the British literary milieu in which he conducted himself with honor and trepidation. T.S. Eliot, Auden, Spender, Larkin, the Royals, and Heaney all make an appearance. His love of and advocacy for the work of his first wife and for the Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai are striking. Americans on the scene include Leonard Baskin, the distinguished printmaker who collaborated on many books with Hughes, W.S. Merwin, especially during his years in England, with references to Donald Hall and Galway Kinnell. The emphasis on the English scene is understandable given the treatment Hughes experienced at the hands of Americans; much of his life is insular and rural to a shocking degree. The happiest times of his life were spent on the farms and rivers of England; he loved fishing and most of his American adventures late in life were fishing trips in Alaska, safely away from the literary maelstrom. The degree to which he and his family fought against the notorious attacks that dogged him all his life casts a dark shadow throughout this book.

Some of the letters are quite lengthy and explain his influences and working procedures in great detail. The amount of time he wasted on radio plays and the theater is remarkable; he always seemed to yearn after success in a field not naturally his own, like Tchaikovsky wanting to write a great opera, and only late in life is Hughes explicit in his hatred of prose! Like Yeats, one of his heros, Hughes is inordinately fond of primitive myths and legends, whether Egyptian, Greek, Welsh, Celtic, Irish etc., from which he creates a confusing stew of mistaken identities. The figure of "Crow", certainly his greatest book and most important creation, is conflated with an entire series of mythical figures without mentioning his own self-identification. Hughes knows nothing of modern science or medicine. He believes in astrology and casts horoscopes for himself and other artists, asks that his books appear on particular days and recommends faith healers for serious conditions, including Larkin's bout with cancer. The supposed killer of two women, one of whom was a literary genius, comes off as a soft-headed acolyte of New Ageism. As a writer I revere Hughes, his "Crow" (1970) helped form me as a poet; as a scientist, I find his views appalling.

Still the reading of these Selected Letters is an absolutely compulsive experience. Acute observation of natural phenomena and human peculiarity are combined with off-hand use of metaphor and idiosyncratic spelling. There are great set-pieces on bull-fighting in Spain, fishing in Africa and cocktail chit-chat everywhere else. There are many wonderful things said about Shakespeare, how Hughes felt about his contemporaries and how he dealt with the Royals. Hughes was the only Poet Laureate of England who was not destroyed in his reputation by the work he did in his official capacity. That America has yet to come to grips with his greatness is no surprise but his revenge on the first draft of history is certain; these Letters are yet another blow from beyond the grave.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen A welcome addition 24. März 2012
Von Carl Rollyson - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
I don't suppose the publisher would have stood for printing all of Ted Hughes's letters, but if you have worked in the Hughes and Sylvia Plath archives, as I have done, you regret that certain letters do not make their appearance in this volume. Nevertheless, for both readers of Plath and Hughes, there is much here to excite interest and reflection. The previous Plath biographies lack Hughes's voice at crucial points, and these published letters help fill the gap.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Ted Hughes: his words be it in poems, letters or whatever 9. April 2014
Von John J. Amaral - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
It is an example of how letters can portray the days in the life of such a talented and creative writer.
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