By Sarah Ruhl
A relocating, leading edge play according to one of many maximum correspondences in literary history
From 1947 to 1977, Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop exchanged greater than 400 letters. Describing the writing in their poems, their go back and forth and day-by-day health problems, the pyrotechnics in their romantic relationships, and the profound affection that they had for every different, those missives are the main intimate list to be had of either poets and one of many maximum correspondences in American literature.
The playwright Sarah Ruhl fell in love with those letters and set herself an strange problem: to show this thirty-year trade right into a degree play, and to carry to lifestyles the friendship of 2 writers who have been infrequently even within the comparable nation. As cutting edge because it is relocating, Dear Elizabeth supplies voice to a talk that lived in most cases in writing, illuminating a few of the best poems of the 20th century and the minds that produced them.
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Additional info for Dear Elizabeth: A Play in Letters from Elizabeth Bishop to Robert Lowell and Back Again
Is, and the semblance of a scientific basis, by the midcentury interest in the new discipline of ethnology; in the United States the methods of the ethnologists were welcomed by both the advocates of black slavery and by those who looked forward to the extinction of the Indian. 33 In 1848, however, Frederick William Van Amringe published An Investigation of the Theories of the Natural History of Man, in which he used what he saw as the irrefutable evidence of documented history to demonstrate that white people were the only ones capable of continued improvement.
61 On the other side of the argument were those critics who objected in general to the representation of Indians in literature on the grounds that the mythologized or "possible" Indian was a lie and the more realistic portraits of Indians were, simply, in bad taste. In 1838 the North American Review carried an especially bristly essay Civilization or Extinction? 43 attacking American poets and novelists for falsely representing the Indians as picturesque and poetic. In reality, the essay contends, there is nothing "pleasing to the imagination in the dirty and smoky cabin of the Indian chief; there is nothing romantic in his custom of sleeping away the days.
Throughout the period of this tremendous growth in the country, however, the terms of the public debate about the Indians remained essentially unchanged. The limits of the debate were largely defined by a few primal questions and the rhetoric they generated in response; once these were in place, they remained virtually fixed. And while the debate sustained itself through its own recirculated rhetoric, the Indians, of course, diminished in power and in numbers year by year. The central question, the one on which most of the subsidiary questions depended, was articulated by William Bartram as early as 1791, in his introduction to the account of his travels in the southeastern United States.