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Book Title: Berryman's Sonnets|
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Reader ratings: 4.8
The author of the book: John Berryman
Edition: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Date of issue: October 21st 2014
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 8.27 MB
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A brilliant and fiercely pitched sonnet cycle about love: at once passionate, forbidden, and doomed
John Berryman was an unconventional poet, but he must have surprised even himself when, in his thirties, he found he was suddenly compelled to write sonnets. It was an unusual choice—even an unpopular one—for a poet in a midcentury American literary scene that was less interested in forms. But it was the right choice, for Berryman found himself in a situation that called for the sonnet: after several years of a happy marriage, he had fallen helplessly, hopelessly in love with the young wife of a colleague.
“Passion sought; passion requited; passion delayed; and, finally, passion utterly thwarted”: this is how the poet April Bernard, in her vivid, intimate introduction, characterizes the sonnet cycle, and it is the cycle that Berryman found himself caught up in. Of course the affair was doomed to end, and end badly. But in the meantime, on the page Berryman performs a spectacular dance of tender, obsessive, impossible love in his “characteristic tonal mixture of bravado and lacerating shame-facedness.” Here is the poet as lover, genius, and also, in Bernard’s words, as nutcase.
In Berryman’s Sonnets, the poet draws on the models of Petrarch and Sidney to reanimate and reimagine the love-sonnet sequence. Complex, passionate, filled with verbal fireworks and the emotional strains of joy, terror, guilt, and longing, these poems are ripe for rediscovery by contemporary readers.
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Read information about the authorJohn Allyn Berryman (originally John Allyn Smith) was an American poet, born in McAlester, Oklahoma. He was a major figure in American poetry in the second half of the 20th century and often considered one of the founders of the Confessional school of poetry. He was the author of The Dream Songs, which are playful, witty, and morbid. Berryman committed suicide in 1972.
A pamphlet entitled Poems was published in 1942 and his first proper book, The Dispossessed, appeared six years later. Of his youthful self he said, 'I didn't want to be like Yeats; I wanted to be Yeats.' His first major work, in which he began to develop his own unique style of writing, was Homage to Mistress Bradstreet, which appeared in Partisan Review in 1953 and was published as a book in 1956. Another pamphle.
His thought made pockets & the plane buckt, followed. It was the collection called Dream Songs that earned him the most admiration. The first volume, entitled 77 Dream Songs, was published in 1964 and won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. The second volume, entitled His Toy, His Dream, His Rest, appeared in 1968.
The two volumes were combined as The Dream Songs in 1969. By that time Berryman, though not a "popular" poet, was well established as an important force in the literary world, and he was widely read among his contemporaries. In 1970 he published the drastically different Love & Fame. It received many negative reviews, along with a little praise, most notably from Saul Bellow and John Bailey. Despite its negative reception, its colloquial style and sexual forthrightness have influenced many younger poets, especially from Britain and Ireland. Delusions Etc., his bleak final collection, which he prepared for printing but did not live to see appear, continues in a similar vein. Another book of poems, Henry's Fate, culled from Berryman's manuscripts, appeared posthumously, as did a book of essays, The Freedom of the Poet, and some drafts of a novel, Recovery.
The poems that form Dream Songs involve a character who is by turns the narrator and the person addressed by a narrator. Because readers assumed that these voices were the poet speaking directly of himself, Berryman's poetry was considered part of the Confessional poetry movement. Berryman, however, scorned the idea that he was a Confessional poet.
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