Letters

Patrick McCaughey reviews 'My Dear BB' edited by Robert Cumming

Patrick McCaughey

By some accounts, it was love at first sight. When Kenneth Clark, recently graduated with a 2A from Oxford, lunched with Bernard Berenson at I Tatti in September 1925, BB impulsively invited him to collaborate on the revised edition of his chef d’oeuvre: The Drawings of the Florentine Painters, C ... More

'Letter from Athens' by Scott McCulloch

Scott McCulloch

Behind Omonoia Square I check into a cheap hotel, one that mainly sleeps prostitutes and their customers. The receptionist is worn – nicotine fingers, few teeth, sharp cheekbones, gaunt features. His flesh is as green as old tattoos. Leading me down the dank hallway, he lifts up his G-Star Raw T-shirt and scratches a large tattoo of a skull heaving angels from its ... More

Letter from Tehran by Scott McCulloch

Scott McCulloch

‘We are the children of death and it is death that rescues us from the deceptions of life.’
Sadeq Hedayat

Smoke fills the car as my friend Amir and I share a cigarette and hurtle down the highway from Tehran airport to the north of the gargantuan metropolis. Thin crowns of sunlight emerge from the shadowy horizon. The urban sprawl starts to ... More

Eloise Ross reviews 'The Selected Letters of Elia Kazan'

Eloise Ross

‘I get awful intense about these movies I do. I become, in fact, obsessed with them.’ So Elia Kazan (1909–2003) wrote to his daughter in 1957. A workaholic, Kazan was both extremely self-assured and plagued by self-doubt, terrified he would produce mediocrity. He rarely did. As a stage and screen director he achieved remarkable success. Kazan was an egotist, a ... More

Iris Murdoch and Brian Medlin

Jane Sullivan

If you’re a bookish type of a certain age, chances are you went through your Iris Murdoch period. You binged on novels such as The Black Prince (1973) and The Sea, The Sea (1978); you immersed yourself in her world of perplexed, agonised souls searching for meaning, falling disastrously in love with absurdly wrong people, consoling themselves with a ... More

Sara Savage reviews 'Yours Truly'

Sara Savage

The popularity of letter-writing has been in decline for years, and recent proposals to privatise Australia Post may accelerate this trend. In an age when an email reaches its recipient in mere micro-seconds, the impassioned letters between Miller and Nin, Stieglitz and O’Keeffe, or Queen Victoria’s estimated 3000 letters to her daughter ‘Vicky’ can se ... More

Patrick Allington on 'The Letters of William Gaddis'’

Patrick Allington

‘I do get truculent sometimes. As you know.’ So wrote the American novelist William Gaddis (1922–98) to his mother in 1950, before anybody, except perhaps Gaddis himself, suspected him of greatness. The Letters of William Gaddis, edited by prominent Gaddis scholar Steven Moore, might easily have been called Truculent Sometimes. A big book, ... More

Miriam Cosic reviews two letter collections of famous writers

Miriam Cosic

The recent publication of Willa Cather’s letters caused a stir in the United States. The American author, surprisingly underrated here, had explicitly and repeatedly said she did not want her letters made public. Some believe her wishes should be respected; others say the demands of history are greater than those of a long-dead individual.

This, of c ... More

James McNamara on 'The Letters of T.S. Eliot'

James McNamara

‘I am back again in London and smothered in work.’ Volume Three of T.S. Eliot’s letters opens to the poet working ‘hours [that] are long and late’, ‘under great pressure’ as a newly appointed professional editor and publisher. Eliot resigned from Lloyds Bank in late 1925 to join the board of Faber and Gwyer. The publishing house bought part of the C ... More

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