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Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell Hardcover – 6 Nov 2008

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 928 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (6 Nov. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571243088
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571243082
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 4.4 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 365,915 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


“Helplessly lyrical till death did them part, Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell wrote so many wonderful letters and postcards to each other from 1947 through 1977 that it’s amazing they ever found the time to publish their poetry." Words in Air," edited by Thomas Travisano with Saskia Hamilton, is their complete correspondence, 800 pages of epigrams and gossips, anxieties and epiphanies, logrolling and backbiting.” —John Leonard, "Harper’s"“Their surviving 459 letters . . . give us the closest view of these wounded creatures—his muscular, bull-in-a-china-shop intellect; her pained shyness and abject modesty, and a gaze like the gleam off a knife . . . The pleasures of this remarkable correspondence lie in the untiring way these poets entertained each other with the comic inadequacies of the world.” —William Logan, "The New York Times""" “I just can’t praise "Words in Air" enough. As Lowell and Bishop’s fri

Book Description

Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell - edited by Thomas Travisano and Saskia Hamilton - is an extraordinary and vivid portrait of two artists and their remarkable friendship, and a record of the lives of two hugely influential poets.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By will kiloran on 5 Sept. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
this is a very great correspondence and it is a privilege to read it . Could not be more highly recommended. Human generosity and high intelligence can live in the same soul.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Love of Poetry 2 Nov. 2008
By C. Hutton - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This correspondence is one long (nearly a thousand pages) love letter between two of the best poets of their generation. Both Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell were personally tortured by their demons (her was alcohol, his was manic-depression) and failed relationships. Though never lovers, their's was a marriage of the minds via the mail for thirty years. It is helpful, though not vital, that the reader be acquainted with their poetry -- the letters have more meaning and one can understand the fuss they had with their written creations. This definiative collection of their letters is a biography of their adult lives.
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
bedtime reading 4 Mar. 2009
By Tyler Horsley - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This has been my bedtime reading for a month now and what a lovely way to end the day.

They lived apart, continents apart, but close in spirit. Their letters are gossipy, smart, unguarded, critical of each others' work, supportive through triumphs and awful trials. They say things to each other that they never would have voiced aloud. (Sometimes they get catty, and mostly they are right.)

As their careers progress, you follow a poem by poem progression. The letters made me aware of the extent to which their poems were written in response to the work of the other, and the importance of their prose and translation to the poems for which they are now famous.

It's a nice book too, a good design, and a fine thing in hand. My only complaint is that the footnotes (which are fascinating) are printed in a tiny font that's almost too small for my tired eyes.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
words in air 28 Dec. 2008
By Thomas Stuart - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I may be regarded as prejudiced but I have long followed the life and poetry of Elizabeth Bishop. This book not only solidified by love of her work but extended it.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The best thing I've read in a very long time 10 Jan. 2012
By Adam Webb - Published on
Format: Paperback
I spent two and a half years reading Words In Air - reading fifty- or hundred-page chunks between other books - and I think it is the best thing I have read in a very long time. I knew nothing about Elizabeth Bishop or Robert Lowell when I entered their thirty year correspondence (I just like books of letters) and I got to know them, their brilliant poems, their debilitating faults, and the lives of poets (or some poets) from the 1940's to the 1970's. I spent more time than I ever expected trying to understand a defense of Ezra Pound, I researched their favorite books (including Bishop's favorite 19th Century animal fiction, Rolf in the Woods), I listened to the classical pieces they referenced (or dwelt on), I found the Google Street View of their past residences. I didn't become obsessed but - when I was in the book - I felt somehow enmeshed in those two lives. Books of letters leave things out: while reading the very last letter of Words In Air I discovered a rather important bit of gossip about Bishop and American literature that either was glossed over or I missed a few hundred pages earlier. So when some time passes, maybe a few years, I'm going to reopen the book and start again, picking up the pieces I missed and reliving these two lives.
Book was delivered in terrible condition! 24 Mar. 2015
By Jeralee Chapman - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm very much enjoying the writing and content however, the book appeared to have been used and arrived very damaged. I was leaving for a trip and wanted to take it with me so didn't bother to return. Very disappointed in the condition of the book itself!
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