Ted Hughes by Elaine Feinstein
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Ted Hughes
By Elaine Feinstein

Ted Hughes

The Life of a Poet

By (author) See other recent books by Elaine Feinstein
Format: Paperback

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Ted Hughes by Elaine Feinstein

Book Awards

  • Shortlisted for Marsh Biography Award 2003.

Book Description

Although Ted Hughes ended his days as England's beloved poet laureate, his life was dogged by tragedy and controversy. He never entirely recovered from the suicide of his wife Sylvia Plath in 1963, for which many have held his adultery responsible. In this insightful biography, the first written since Hughes's death, Elaine Feinstein explores an altogether more complex situation, throwing new light on his relationship with his lover Assia Wevill, who later killed herself along with their young daughter.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780393323627
ISBN-10: 0393323625
Format: Paperback
(211mm x 140mm x 20mm)
Pages: 304
Imprint: WW Norton & Co
Publisher: WW Norton & Co
Publish Date: 4-Mar-2003
Country of Publication: United States

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UK Kirkus Review » Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath are posthumous inspirations for rival teams, each with a strong-armed body of supporters: one team asks for sympathy for Hughes' indisputably tragic and supposedly forbearing life, blighted by a demanding first marriage and by the shadow of two suicides (first Plath's and, later, that of the object of his infidelity, Assia Weevil, who also killed their child); while the other rallies feminist argument in favour of Plath, the wronged genius. This biography is a workmanlike account; the writing is sometimes flat and formulaic ('As Ted and Sylvia drove up to Yorkshire for Christmas that December in their new Morris car, Ted could not but wonder how this visit would go') but the narrative is page-turningly pacy, and we swiftly learn the outline of the two key lives (Sylvia is often in the foreground). Feinstein avoids literary politicking, but there is a bias in Hughes' favour, which leaves us somewhat shocked when she withholds analysis of the poet's compulsive infidelities. As countervailing qualities, we are told of his generosity, his thoughtfulness, his lack of guile and his responsible stewardship of Plath's electrifying poetry - yet there is no real engagement with the more primitive, self-serving side of his nature. Moreover, there is little illumination of his own poetry (except for the autobiographical Birthday Letters, whose provenance remains frustratingly mysterious) and little on Hughes' inner life generally. To take two examples of the many unexplored corners: why was Hughes so deeply attached to his emigre brother Gerald? And what was Hughes' view of the role of the Poet Laureate and of the royal lineage he felt impelled to honour in that capacity? We never learn the answers to these and many other important questions. One day the world needs a longer, deeper account, but in the meantime this biography, which manages to make a virtue of its concision, is well worth acquiring. (Kirkus UK)

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Author Biography - Elaine Feinstein

Elaine Feinstein, prize-winning poet, novelist, and fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, has written biographies of D. H. Lawrence, Marina Tsvetayeva, and Alexander Pushkin. She lives in London.

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