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Prose: The Centenary Edition


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A centenary edition of the prose of Elizabeth Bishop, one of the finest American poets of the twentieth century.

About the Author

Elizabeth Bishop was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1911 and graduated from Vassar College in 1934. She travelled widely as an adult, living in Paris, Mexico, New York, Florida, and, for more than a decade, Brazil, before returning to the United States. Her work was immediately prized for its distinctive clarity, precision, and depth, and she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award, among others. Over time she has come to be acknowledged as one of America's greatest poets. She died in Boston in 1979.


The most exciting part of the Bishop reissue project may be this volume, which contains all of the prose published in her lifetime, as well as a few hard to find things and a thing or two you won't find anywhere else. As a frequent contributor to the New Yorker (the poet's decades-long relationship with the magazine is brought to life in The Complete Correspondence) and other publications, Bishop crafted all kinds of prose, from autobiographical short stories ("In the Village") to loving reminiscences ("Efforts of Affection: A Memoir of Marianne Moore"); she was as original a prose writer as she was a poet, an under-known fact this volume may help solidify once and for all. The real gem of this book is "Brazil," a book-length essay on Bishop's adopted homeland, whose published version, which came out as a Time-Life guide, Bishop hated. Here we have her original draft, written in her inimitable style: "The history of South America in the nineteenth century resembles Shakespeare's battle scenes: shouts and trumpets; small armies on stage, small armies off stage..." Take that, Lonely Planet! (This title is also available with Poems as a hardcover boxed set, $75, ISBN 9780-374-12558-5.) (Feb) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

The virtues of the prose are the virtues of the poems: observation, wit, decorum, a sinuous intelligence adn above all what Randall Jarrell called her 'moral attractiveness' -- Michael Hoffman
Unhurried, methodical, human, she pronounces a true but merciful verdict on our precarious existence -- Craig Raine
[Bishop] was also a fine writer of prose...So hats off to the publishers for gathering all her writings in two separate volumes...her cosmopolitan life is reflected in the breadth of her writings, all suffused with curiosity and quiet intelligence * Sunday Telegraph *
Taken together [with the Poems: The Centenary Edition], these two volumes make a handsome tribute to a writer who is gradually, quietly being recognized...as one of America's greatest * London Review of Books *

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