The Life of John Berryman
First published in 1982, The Life of John Berryman draws on extensive research in the USA and on an enormous collection of hitherto unpublished materials – journals, letters, stories and poetry –to build a biography that recounts in absorbing detail the public and private stages of John Berry man’s career. It also offers an intimate portrait of a creative artist: his compulsive self-presentation and self-reproach, his moral and artistic dilemmas, his dedication and his accomplishments.
John Berryman occupies a central place among the outstanding poets of recent times. The course of his life ran between the extremes of personal degradation and artistic ecstasy. He suffered the early suicide of his father, the dominance of his mother, poverty and professional setbacks, psychiatric treatment, alcoholism, and sexual and spiritual vexation. He became an electrifying, fearful teacher and a loving, jealous friend. His mentors and close associates included Mark Van Doren, Richard Blackmur, Allen Tate, Robert Lowell and Saul Bellow. The years brought him spells of deep personal joy and artistic fulfilment, but all too heavy a hand of terrible suffering. The book will be an extremely interesting read for students of literature.
A note on spelling and punctuation Chronology 1. Introductory 2. Beginnings: boyhood and father’s suicide 3. A monkey among kings, 1927-32 4. Scapegrace and spirited student, 1932-36 5. Distinction and first fiancée, 1936-39 6. First teaching and another loss, 1939-40 7. Harvard and marriage, 1940-43 8. Princeton and the pains of scholarship, 1943-46 9. Art and adultery, 1947 10. Work and shame, 1948-51 11. Transitions, 1952-54 12. Minneapolis and second marriage, 1954-57 13. Breaking-points, 1958-59 14. Third marriage, 1960-62 15. Triumphs and trials, 1962-66 16. The sick and brilliant public man, 1966-69 17. Drink as disease, 1969-70 18. Precarious recovery, 1970-71 19. Last months, 1971-72 Appendix: A famous forebear: Robert Glenn Shaver Selected bibliography Acknowledgements and notes on sources Index of works by Berryman General index