Peter McDonald

The Heart or the Head?

The Letters of Robert Lowell


Faber & Faber 852pp £30 order from our bookshop

‘If there’s an afterlife,’ Robert Lowell wrote in 1975 (within two years of finding out), ‘I think I’d spend it living and rereading everything written to me.’ The claim is sincere, and it is in keeping with the doggedly retentive attitude to friendship everywhere evident in his own correspondence. Even so, a reader of this large volume of Lowell’s letters might well see a telling inaccuracy in the phrase ‘everything written to me’: ‘about me’ comes much closer to Lowell’s true passion. If there is an afterlife for poets, and it is somehow continuous with this one, then we can be sure that Lowell is spending a good deal of it keeping up with his reviews.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Here's reviewing Rachel Kushner's novel about a woman caught in the injustice of the US prison system,… ,
    • 'Hart sets out to unsettle, startle and disturb. In this strange, disconcerting, radical version of a strange, disc… ,
    • Here is @MannJessica's June crime fiction round-up, discussing books by Georges Simenon, Jack Grimwood,… ,
    • John Stubbs reviews Stephen Greenblatt's latest, 'Tyrant: Shakespeare on Power' ,
    • RT : What happened when US military strategist Herman Kahn - one of Kubrick’s three models for Dr Strangelove - took LSD… ,
    • 'Pollan has no doubt that the use of psychedelics could have a powerfully beneficial effect on a range of condition… ,
    • A memoir about an Untouchable family and the 'formation of modern India': 'Ants among Elephants' by @gidla_sujatha… ,