Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell
Edited by Thomas Travisano with Saskia Hamilton
Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 928 pages, $45.
IN THE REALM of 20th-century American literature, the collected correspondence of Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell is among the most important sets of letters that we have between two poets. With style, humor, and candor, Words in Air charts the pair’s gradual rise to fame in the literary world over thirty years, from their initial meeting at the New York apartment of poet-critic Randall Jarrell in 1947, until Lowell’s sudden death from a heart attack in the back of a New York taxicab in 1977. At nearly 1,000 pages, this massive new volume will no doubt be an invaluable resource for scholars. It’s also surprisingly entertaining for anyone interested in the daily minutiae and detailed observations of Elizabeth and Cal (as Lowell was affectionately called by friends).