‘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
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
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
‘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
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
‘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