Selected Letters

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Penguin, 1998 - Biography & Autobiography - 597 pages
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In her introduction, Bonnie Costello writes:
On July 9, 1959, T. S. Eliot wrote to Marianne Moore: "One of the books which obviously must in the fullness of time be published . . . will be the Letters of Marianne Moore." We are pleased to fulfill his prediction. Marianne Moore's correspondence makes up the largest and most broadly significant collection of any modern poet. It documents the first two-thirds of this century, reflecting shifts from Victorian to modernist culture, the experience of the two world wars, the Depression and postwar prosperity, and the changing face of the arts in America and Europe. Moore wrote letters daily for most of her life--long, intense letters to friends and family; shorter, but always distinctive letters to an ever-widening circle of acquaintances and fans. At the height of her celebrity, she would occasionally write as many as fifty letters a day. Both Moore and her correspondents appreciated the value of their exchange, so that an extraordinary number of letters, approximately thirty thousand, have been preserved . . . It is Moore's poetry that draws us to her letters, of course. But in making this selection we have tried to present the life and mind of a woman whose interests extended to all the arts, to religion, politics, and psychology, to fashion, sports, and the domestic arts, moving freely between high culture and popular culture, and whose family and friendships remained as important as her professional life. Moore's correspondence is unique in the extent of its extraliterary interests and passionate engagement with the world at large. From her college adventures, her travels, and the flurry of her artistic and social activities, thereseems to have been no lull. What has struck us most in reading through Moore's letters is the vitality and fullness of the long life they record.
  

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Selected pages

Contents

Childhood and the Bryn Mawr Years 18871909
3
19101918
73
19191924
117
19251929
211
19301934
251
19351941
335
19421951
417
19511972
487
Glossary of Names
559
Appendix
572
Copyright

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About the author (1998)

Marianne Moore was born in Kirkwood, Missouri, on November 1, 1887, and spent much of her youth in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. After graduation from Bryn Mawr College in 1909 she taught for four years at the Carlisle Indian School. Her poetry first appeared professionally in The Egoist and Poetry magazines in 1915 and she moved to New York City in 1918. Her first book, Poems, was issued in England by the Egoist Press in 1921. Observations, published three years later in America, received the Dial Award. From 1925 to 1929 she served as acting editor of The Dial, the preeminent American literary periodical. She moved to Brooklyn in 1929, where she lived for the next thirty-six years. In 1935 Selected Poems, with an Introduction by T.S. Eliot, brought her work to the attention of a wider public.

Three additional books of poetry were followed, in 1951, by her Collected Poems, which won the Bollingen Prize, the National Book Award, and the Pulitzer Prize. She went on to publish a verse translation of the complete Fables of La Fontaine, a collection of critical essays, and three more volumes of poems.

Among the many awards Marianne Moore received are the National Institute of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for poetry, the Poetry Scoiety of America's Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement, and the National Medal for Literature, America's highest literary honor. A member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters since 1947, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1955. In 1967 she was made Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Republic, and in 1969 she received an honorary doctorate in literature from Harvard University, her sixteenth honorary degree. Marianne Moore died in New York City, in her eighty-fifth year, on February 5, 1972.

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