A Genius Ill-Served

Poems

by Elizabeth Bishop
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 35 pp., $16.00 (paper)

Prose

by Elizabeth Bishop, edited by Lloyd Schwartz
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 507 pp., $20.00 (paper)

One wishes only to celebrate the twin volumes of Elizabeth Bishop’s poems and prose, published this year to mark the centenary of her birth. Bishop was one of the great artists of the twentieth century; her poems now tower over the landscape alongside those of Eliot and Stevens. It is no exaggeration to say that her poems get larger and stranger and more overwhelming with every reading. But there is a vexing problem that these new editions raise. One might call it the new biographical fallacy, born of this age of too much information.

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Letters

More From Elizabeth Bishop? May 26, 2011