On Elizabeth Bishop

Colm Tóibín, 1955-

Book - 2015

"In this book, novelist Colm Tóibín offers a deeply personal introduction to the work and life of one of his most important literary influences--the American poet Elizabeth Bishop. Ranging across her poetry, prose, letters, and biography, Tóibín creates a vivid picture of Bishop while also revealing how her work has helped shape his sensibility as a novelist and how her experiences of loss and exile resonate with his own. What emerges is a compelling double portrait that will intrigue r...eaders interested in both Bishop and Tóibín."--Jacket.

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2nd Floor 811.54/BishopYt Due Jul 8, 2022
Series
Writers on writers.
Subjects
Published
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press 2015.
Language
English
Physical Description
209 pages ; 20 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 203-205).
ISBN
0691154112
9780691154114
Main Author
Colm Tóibín, 1955- (author)
  • No detail too small
  • One of me
  • In the village
  • The art of losing
  • Nature greets our eyes
  • Order and disorder in Key West
  • The escape from history
  • Grief and reason
  • The little that we get for free
  • Art isn't worth that much
  • The Bartók bird
  • Efforts of affection
  • North American light.
Review by Choice Reviews

This compact volume covers most of Bishop's major poems, and includes discussion of unpublished work and draft poems.  Drawing on letters, notebooks, biography, and interviews, award-winning novelist Colm Tóibín (humanities, Columbia University) explores the key settings that inspired Bishop's poetry: Nova Scotia, Key West, and Brazil.  He also traces Bishop's movement from poems written in the shadow of WW II, work that seems to reflect the pressures of history, to later poems that mark an escape from those external forces.  The overview of her relationships with Robert Lowell and Marianne Moore is perceptive; Bishop learned much from these two poets as she emerged from their shadows to find her own singular voice.  Tóibín's treatment is personal but never self-indulgent, and the book is much more than an appreciation of a poet with whom he has affinities.  Beautifully written and deeply felt, this is a penetrating examination of Bishop's aesthetic of stylistic restraint and personal reticence.  What he calls Bishop's "calm austerity" allowed her to use precise description to avoid self-description. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers. --K. P. Ljungquist, Worcester Polytechnic Institute Kent P. Ljungquist Worcester Polytechnic Institute http://dx.doi.org/10.5860/CHOICE.191769 Copyright 2014 American Library Association.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Irish novelist Tóibín (Irene and Sidney B. Silverman Professor of the Humanities, Columbia Univ.; Nora Webster) provides a personalized account of poet Elizabeth Bishop's (1911–79) life and works and their influence on his own work as a writer after he discovered her poetry at age 19. Tóibín notes the deep sense of loss pervading Bishop's experience and writing resulting from the loss of her parents and childhood home and later of her female lover. Over the course of her life, Bishop lived in Massachusetts, Nova Scotia, Key West, and Brazil, and her poetry reflects a strong connection to these places. In revealing details of his own life, Tóibín explains why he shares Bishop's sense of defeat and of exile, as he also lost his father at a young age and has lived in various settings on different continents. In addition, he identifies with Bishop as a gay writer. Analyses of some of the poems are included, focusing on Bishop's attention to detail and insistence on precise descriptions and noting the influence of Robert Lowell and Marianne Moore on her work. VERDICT Recommended for followers of both writers.—Denise J. Stankovics, Vernon, CT [Page 107]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Novelist Tóibín (Nora Webster) gives an intimate and engaging look at Elizabeth Bishop's poetry and its influence on his own work. Tóibín begins with an account of Bishop's guiding principles for writing poetry, including that the words be "precise and exact." The same precision that Tóibín finds in Bishop's work marks his writing here. Without attempting a comprehensive biography, he traces Bishop's life from her childhood in Nova Scotia to her moves to Key West and later to Boston, detailing turning points like her mother's time in a mental institution and the suicide of her lover Lota de Macedo Soares. Other writers appear, either through their own relationships with Bishop—such as Thom Gunn, Mary McCarthy, Marianne Moore, and Robert Lowell, whom Bishop called her best friend—or in comparison with Bishop as writers, such as James Joyce. The portrait of Bishop that emerges shows her as protective of her voice as a poet, reserved, but not unkind, and "distant from the reader." Tóibín is also present in the book, and his relationship to Bishop's work and admiration of her style gives the book much of its power. Whether one is familiar with Bishop's life and work or is looking to Tóibín to learn more, this book will appeal to many readers. (Apr.) [Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Novelist Colm Tóibín offers a deeply personal introduction to the work and life of one of his most important literary influences—the American poet Elizabeth Bishop.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"In this book, novelist Colm Tâoibâin offers a deeply personal introduction to the work and life of one of his most important literary influences--the American poet Elizabeth Bishop. Ranging across her poetry, prose, letters, and biography, Tâoibâin creates a vivid picture of Bishop while also revealing how her work has helped shape his sensibility as a novelist and how her experiences of loss and exile resonate with his own. What emerges is a compelling double portrait that will intrigue readers interested in both Bishop and Tâoibâin"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

The author povides a personal introduction to one of his most important influences, blending biographical anecdotes with literary appreciation.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

The author examines the life and work of American poet Elizabeth Bishop, demonstrating that the emotional expression in her poems comes from what is left unsaid. He explores how her childhood in Nova Scotia and the early loss of her parents, as well as her later life in Key West and Brazil, influenced her poems, and connects her life and loss to his own. He also discusses her relationships with Thom Gunn, Robert Lowell, and Marianne Moore. Annotation ©2015 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com)

Review by Publisher Summary 5

A compelling portrait of a beloved poet from one of today's most acclaimed novelistsIn this book, novelist Colm Tóibín offers a deeply personal introduction to the work and life of one of his most important literary influences—the American poet Elizabeth Bishop. Ranging across her poetry, prose, letters, and biography, Tóibín creates a vivid picture of Bishop while also revealing how her work has helped shape his sensibility as a novelist and how her experiences of loss and exile resonate with his own. What emerges is a compelling double portrait that will intrigue readers interested in both Bishop and Tóibín.For Tóibín, the secret of Bishop's emotional power is in what she leaves unsaid. Exploring Bishop’s famous attention to detail, Tóibín describes how Bishop is able to convey great emotion indirectly, through precise descriptions of particular settings, objects, and events. He examines how Bishop’s attachment to the Nova Scotia of her childhood, despite her later life in Key West and Brazil, is related to her early loss of her parents—and how this connection finds echoes in Tóibín’s life as an Irish writer who has lived in Barcelona, New York, and elsewhere.Beautifully written and skillfully blending biography, literary appreciation, and descriptions of Tóibín’s travels to Bishop’s Nova Scotia, Key West, and Brazil, On Elizabeth Bishop provides a fresh and memorable look at a beloved poet even as it gives us a window into the mind of one of today’s most acclaimed novelists.