Art and Memory in the Work of Elizabeth Bishop
In Art and Memory in the Work of Elizabeth Bishop, Jonathan Ellis offers evidence for a redirection in Bishop studies toward a more thorough scrutiny of the links between Bishop's art and life. The book is less concerned with the details of what actually happened to Bishop than with the ways in which she refracted key events into writing: both personal, unpublished material as well as stories, poems, and paintings. Thus, Ellis challenges Bishop's reputation as either a strictly impersonal or personal writer and repositions her poetry between the Modernists on the one hand and the Confessionals on the other. Although Elizabeth Bishop was born and died in Massachusetts, she lived a life more bohemian and varied than that of almost all of her contemporaries, a fact masked by the tendency of biographers and critics to focus on Bishop's life in the United States. Drawing on published works and unpublished material overlooked by many critics, Ellis gives equal attention to the influence of Bishop's Canadian upbringing on her art and to the shifts in her aesthetic and personal tastes that took place during Bishop's residence in Brazil during the 1950s and 1960s. By bringing together the whole of Bishop's work, this book opens a welcome new direction in Bishop studies specifically, and in the study of women poets generally.
'A sensitively written and illuminating book that deepens our understanding of the life's ambivalences and achievements. Avoiding biographical reductivism, Ellis offers a fresh and often compelling reading of important topics such as the relationship between Bishop's experience of homelessness and her imagination of place.' Vivian Pollak, Washington University in St. Louis, USA