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So I Have Thought of You: The Letters of Penelope Fitzgerald

So I Have Thought of You: The Letters of Penelope Fitzgerald [Kindle Edition]

Penelope Fitzgerald , Terence Dooley
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Product Description


‘Of all the novelists in English of the last quarter-century, Penelope Fitzgerald has the most unarguable claim on greatness.’ Philip Hensher

Reviews for ‘A House of Air’:

‘This generous selection of essays, reviews, introductions and other occasional writings proves yet again that stylistically, intellectually and morally Fitzgerald couldn’t put a foot wrong if she’d tried. Hers is an impeccable and unique voice not just from another century but another world.’ Michael Dibdin, Books of the Year, Daily Telegraph

‘Remarkable. It is the range of her scholarship that impresses.’ Doris Lessing, Books of the Year, Daily Telegraph

‘An intelligent writer, superbly and unfailingly so. Wise and funny, with a dry wit allied to a great emotional sympathy.’ Sunday Times

Sunday Express

`Fitzgerald's letters [are] full of gaiety and exuberance.'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 834 KB
  • Print Length: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (27 May 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003M5IM00
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #274,522 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Penelope Fitzgerald was one of the most elegant and distinctive voices in British fiction. Three of her novels, The Bookshop, The Beginning of Spring and The Gate of Angels have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She won the Prize in 1979 for Offshore. Her last novel, The Blue Flower, was the most admired novel of 1995, chosen no fewer than nineteen times in the press as the 'Book of the Year'. It won America's National Book Critics' Circle Award.
She died in April 2000, at the age of eighty three.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ce que tu vois de la femme 1 Mar 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
When literary critics look back on the final quarter of the CXX they are likely to be struck by the contrast between the dominant position of women in the field of English Literary Fiction and their comparative lack of recognition. Beryl Bainbridge is the most obvious example, but until she published her last novel, The Blue Flower, in 1995 it may be said that no one and quite got the true measure of Penelope Fitzgerald.

Penelope Fitzgerald had been nominated for the Booker Prize with her second novel, 'The Bookshop', and won it with her third, 'Offshore', but that victory was heavily discounted by journalists who had already written copy extolling the virtues of V.S.Naipaul `s `A Bend in the River' - which everyone had assumed would win. In those days, winning the Booker did not necessarily make you rich, but it might have been thought to entitle you to some respect. Instead, Mrs Fitzgerald had to put up with sneering, condescension, and suggestions, even from her publisher, Colin Haycraft, that she was essentially an 'amateur' and not cut out for creative fiction. As for the 'Blue Flower', whilst it achieved due recognition when it became the first book by a British author to win the National Book Critics Circle award, it failed to make even ther short list in a year when the Booker Prize judges were George Walden, Kate Kellaway, Peter Kemp, Adam Mars Jones and Ruth Rendell.

These 500 pages of collected correspondence are, nevertheless, something of a disappointment. There are scarcely any letters from the first years of Penelope Fitzgerald's life - none for example, to her father, none to her Knox uncles; none to friends from Oxford, or her pre-war friends in London (save for a few, mildly uninteresting ones to Hugh Lee).
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a wonderful collection 30 July 2008
By Edmund
These letters, which are probably the last we'll hear from one of the most nuanced, least imitable voices of recent decades, are lit from start to finish by the intelligence, warmth and sense of life's (often comic) pathos which characterised everything Fitzgerald wrote. The collection is divided into two equally fascinating parts. The first, which comprises Fitzgerald's letters to her family and closest friends, is remarkable for the detailed portrait it manages to give, despite her habitual self-effacement and the large gaps in her correspondence. Here we see her as a loving and attentive mother, a generous friend, and - of particular interest, given that she didn't start publishing books until her late fifties - as a witty and charismatic young woman. In the second part, which covers Fitzgerald's writing life, we learn how brusquely she was treated, early in her career, by publishers and members of the literary establishment (and - a surprise to those of us who can't remember the days before a Booker win brought with it immediate fame and fortune - that she had to go on teaching for several years after receiving the prize); as well as a wealth of information about her unfinished biographies of L.P. Hartley and the Poetry Bookshop. The preface by A.S. Byatt and the introduction by Terence Dooley provide tantalising glimpses of Fitzgerald from the perspectives of those who knew her personally (Byatt was her colleague at Westminster Tutors, a college preparing students for the old Oxbridge entrance exams, long before either had established their literary reputations; Dooley was her son-in-law), as well as a few startling insights into her fiction - who knew, for example, that the name Annie Asra, in Human Voices, was an allusion to a poem by Heine? - which, along with the clues and intimations contained in the letters themselves, have sent me right back to the novels, with an even greater respect for the depth of her achievement.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gift, pure and simple 31 July 2008
That Fitzgerald is a little known genius still astonishes me. Her novels are one and all among the finest written in English. They are lyric, wise, and perfectly wrought, and if they are at times tragic, it is because they reflect the world as it is, and not as it ought to be. And their beauty makes up for their truth.

And now the letters. It's true that there aren't many--the ones between Fitzgerald and her husband, for example, went down when her houseboat sank (the adventure on which her book, Offshore is based). But what we have exemplify her at her best. Wry, tender, honest--sometimes curmudgeonly, other times hilarious--they show us the raw talent that percolated until the author was 60 years old.

Buy them, read them, and compare them to the best of the genre: The Collected Letters of Ted Hughes, Elizabeth Bishop, Sylvia Plath, Thomas Merton, Virginia Woolf, and Katherine Mansfield--just to name a few.
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