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Letters of Basil Bunting


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Table of Contents

Introduction Letters Late Spring (1920-1938) Midway (1939-1963) Revival (1964-1985) Glossary of Names

About the Author

Alex Niven is Lecturer in English Literature at Newcastle University and his books include Folk Opposition (2011) and New Model Island (2019).


Bunting was an extraordinary letter writer... Niven has gathered an important collection... Nothing is wasted and he is always careful... The selection bears witness not only to modern poetry's principal issues from the point of view of a very acute and opinionated observer, but also takes us away from the arts bureaucrats and into that heroic world of small publishers and hard-pressed editors without which there would be no poetry in the first place. * Robert Colls, New Statesman *
Letters of Basil Bunting is the essential record of everything that made the masterpiece of Briggflatts possible. * David Wheatey, Literary Review *
What a pleasure to read these letters...In a variety of registers, from the high-minded to the demotic, the letters consider (literary material aside) travel, food, restaurants, waiters ("the true glory of Paris"), incarceration, elevators in New York, marriage and war Niven's editorship is tactful and unobtrusive. The letters are allowed to sing their own songs, whether plaintive, joyous, droll... * Julian Stannard, The Critic *
The academic and poet Alex Niven - one of the UK's rather more interesting younger cultural critics - now adds to [Bunting's] history with a selected edition of Basil Bunting's letters...In both Bunting's letters and the poetry there are years of billowing nothing. But what is there is remarkable and certainly deserves to be added to the alt. Eng. Lit. canon... What is truly notable here is the correspondence with Ezra Pound - and later with fellow poet Louis Zukofsky. * Ian Sansom, Spectator *
An exemplary collection and a gold-standard example of how to put together a volume of letters; the amount of work which has gone into what is a major work of scholarship (as well as being incredibly readable) is, frankly, epic... Bunting is a fascinating correspondent and Niven is to be applauded for bringing these letters to a wider audience. * , Kaggsy's Bookish Ramblings *
I stopped everything and read them all. The letters are even more fascinating than I imagined. An important contribution to Bunting's legacy but also sheds a fascinating light on all sorts of things, especially Pound. * Lee Hall, writer of Billy Elliott *
This well-judged selection of Bunting's fascinating letters takes us on a lively tour of twentieth-century poetry, conducting us from the high modernism of the 1920s and 1930s to the British Poetry Revival half a century later. In his comprehensive introduction and intelligent editing, Alex Niven proves himself the ideal guide to the career of one of our most important modern poets. * Rebecca Beasley, Professor of Modernist Studies, University of Oxford, author of Ezra Pound and the Visual Culture of Modernism *
Basil Bunting-poet, journalist, sailor, soldier, diplomat, spy-was for much of his life a "struggler in the desert" (Ezra Pound's phrase) on the margins of the English literary scene. This expansive and beautifully edited selection of Bunting's correspondence follows Bunting around the world, from Northumberland to London, Paris, Italy, the Canaries, Iran, the United States, and points between. The letters-cantankerous, thoughtful, exasperated, eloquent-are rich with literary, historical, and personal insights whose value goes far beyond their commentary on Bunting's own magnificent poetry. * Mark Scroggins, Professor of English at Florida Atlantic University, author of The Poem of a Life: A Biography of Louis Zukofsky, and editor of Upper Limit Music: The Writing of Louis Zukofsky *

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