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1. Birthday Letters: Poems
2. Crow: From the Life and Songs
3. The Iron Man
4. Ted Hughes: The Life of a Poet
5. Letters of Ted Hughes
6. Ariel's Gift: Ted Hughes, Sylvia
7. Sylvia Plath Poems: Selected by
8. Collected Poems
9. Memories of Ted Hughes 1952-1963
10. Selected Poems 1957-1994
11. The Iron Giant
12. Tales from Ovid: 24 Passages from
13. New Selected Poems
14. Collected Poems of Ted Hughes
15. The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath
16. Ted Hughes (Faber 80th Anniversary
17. Savage Gods, Silver Ghosts: In
18. Phèdre: A Play
19. Collected Poems
20. Ted Hughes: New Selected Poems

1. Birthday Letters: Poems
by Ted Hughes
Paperback: 208 Pages (1999-03-30)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$2.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374525811
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Formerly Poet Laureate to Queen Elizabeth II, the late Ted Hughes (1930-98) is recognized as one of the few contemporary poets whose work has mythic scope and power. And few episodes in postwar literature have the legendary stature of Hughes's romance with, and marriage to, the great American poet Sylvia Plath.

The poems in Birthday Letters are addressed (with just two exceptions) to Plath, and were written over a period of more than twenty-five years, the first a few years after her suicide in 1963. Some are love letters, others haunted recollections and ruminations. In them, Hughes recalls his and Plath's time together, drawing on the powerful imagery of his work--animal, vegetable, mythological--as well as on Plath's famous verse.

Countless books have discussed the subject of this intense relationship from a necessary distance, but this volume--at last--offers us Hughes's own account. Moreover, it is a truly remarkable collection of poems in its own right.Amazon.com Review
Ted Hughes's Birthday Letters--88 tantalizing responsesto SylviaPlath and the furies she left behind--emerge from an echo chamberof art and memory, rage and representation. In the decades followinghis wife's 1963 suicide, Hughes kept silent, a stance many have seenas guilty, few as dignified. While an industry grew out of Plath'slife and art, and even her afterlife, he continued to compose his owndark, unconfessional verses, and edited her Collected Poems,Letters Home:Correspondence 1950-1963, and Journals. ButHughes's conservancy (and his sister Olwyn's power as Plath'sexecutrix) laid him open to yet more blame. Biographers and criticsfound his cuts to her letters self-interested, and decried hisdestruction of the journals of her final years--undertaken, heinsisted, for the sake of their children.

In Birthday Letters we now have Hughes's response to Plath'swhite-hot mythologizing. Lost happiness intensifies present pain, butso does old despair: "Your ghost," he acknowledges,"inseparable from my shadow." Ranging from accessibleshort-story-like verses to tightly wound, allusive lyrics, the poemspush forward from initial encounters to key moments long after Plath'sdeath. In "Visit," he writes, "I look up--as if to meetyour voice / With all its urgent future / that has burst in onme. Then look back / At the book of the printed words./ You are tenyears dead. It is only a story. / Your story. My story." Thesepoems are filled with conditionals and might-have-beens, Hughes neverletting us forget forces in motion before their seven-year marriageand final separation. When he first sees Plath, she is both scarred(from her earlier suicide attempt) and radiant: "Your eyes /Squeezed in your face, a crush of diamonds, / Incredibly bright,bright as a crush of tears..." But Fate and Plath's father, Otto,will not let them be. In the very next poem, "The Shot," hertrajectory is already plotted. Though Hughes is her victim, her realtarget is her dead father--"the god with the smoking gun."

Of course, "The Shot" and the accusatory "The Dogs AreEating Your Mother" are an incitement to those who side (as ifthere is a side!) with Plath. Newsweek has already chalked upthe reaction of poet and feminist Robin Morgan tothe book: "My teeth began to grind uncontrollably." ButHughes makes it clear that his poems are written for his dead wife andliving children, not her acolytes' bloodsport. He has also, of course,written them for himself and the reader. Pieces such as"Epiphany," "The 59th Bear," and "Life AfterDeath" are masterful mixes of memory and image. In"Epiphany," for instance, the young Hughes, walking inLondon, suddenly spots a man carrying a fox inside his jacket.Offered the cub for a pound, he hesitates, knowing he and Plathcouldn't handle the animal--not with a new baby, not in the city. Butin an instant, his potent vision extends beyond the animal, perhaps tohis and Plath's children:

Already past the kittenish
But the eyes still small,
Round, orphaned-looking, woebegone
As if with weeping. Bereft
Of the blue milk, the toys of feather and fur,
The den life's happy dark. And the huge whisper
Of the constellations
Out of which Mother had always returned.
Other poems are more influenced by Plath's "terrible,hypersensitive fingers," including "The Bee God" and"Dreamers," which is apparently a record of Plath's oneencounter with Hughes's mistress: "She fascinated you. Her eyescaressed you, / Melted a weeping glitter at you. / Her German the darkundercurrent / In her Kensington jeweller's elocution / Was yourancestral Black Forest whisper--" This exotic woman,"slightly filthy with erotic mystery," seems a closerelation to Plath's own Lady Lazarus, and the poem would be equallypowerful without any biographical information. This is the oneparadoxical pity of this superb collection. These poems require noprior knowledge--but for better or worse, we possess it. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (53)

4-0 out of 5 stars Exploring the Dark and Light side Of Hughes
I was interested in reading this book , to get his side of great American tragic romance. I was surprised at the gentleness of images and metaphors used, by a man who was demonized by the literary world because of the death of Sylvia.

5-0 out of 5 stars This book does not need a review
This book does not need a review. Published 12 years ago it is already regarded as the best book by one of the most important English poets of the second half of the last century.

2-0 out of 5 stars Skip This One
I like Ted Hughes' early poetry. Poems like "Pike" "Wind" and "Thought-Fox" were really terrific. In those poems, Hughes seemed genuinely inspired by nature and myth. These were his great subjects. His wife, Sylvia Plath, also used myth but in a completely different way. She turned her self in a kind of dramatic, mythological character, creating a persona that was loosely based on the real "Sylvia Plath." The critic M.L. Rosenthal called this kind of poetry "confessional." And though Plath belonged in this category of poets, her husband, Hughes, did not. In "Birthday Letters," Hughes plays with the mythology surrounding his relationship with Plath. But using his autobiography as the source for poetry has never been Hughes' strength, and what he serves up here as poetry often reads like a prose-memoir that Hughes chose to divide into lines of verse and call poetry.

The lines are slack, sentimental, and sloppy, and Hughes' great command of language seems to be missing here. So if you want to get a good taste of Hughes' best poetry, this book is not the place you'll find it. For a better sample of Hughes' work, I would recommend his Selected Poems or one of his early books.

"Birthday Letters" is a curiosity that might hold the attention of those interested in Hughes' take on his relationship with Sylvia Plath. Nevertheless, this story's been told many times before, and I think that it's been told better in books like Diane Middlebrook's "Her Marriage: Hughes and Plath."

5-0 out of 5 stars Emotional and extraordinary!

Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes are personal, emotional and brilliant. The poet retells the story of his marriage with Sylvia Plath in a language that is loaded with strong emotions.
The poems fill two functions. On the one hand, they can be considered as a companion piece to Sylvia Plath's poetry, offering another understanding of it, and on the other, they depict the relation between Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. It is possible that Ted Hughes loved Sylvia more after her death than when she was alive, and therefore succeeded very well in sublimating his love poetically in this masterpiece.

Joyce Akesson, author ofLove's Thrilling Dimensions and The Invitation

5-0 out of 5 stars Personal, emotional and brilliant!
Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes are personal, emotional and brilliant. The poet retells the story of his marriage with Sylvia Plath in a language that is loaded with strong emotions.
The poems fill two functions. On the one hand, they can be considered as a companion piece to Sylvia Plath's poetry, offering another understanding of it, and on the other, they depict the relation between Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. It is possible that Ted Hughes loved Sylvia more after her death than when she was alive, and therefore succeeded very well in sublimating his love poetically in this masterpiece.

Joyce Akesson, author of Love's Thrilling Dimensions ... Read more

2. Crow: From the Life and Songs of the Crow
by Ted Hughes
Paperback: 94 Pages (2001-09-03)
list price: US$15.81 -- used & new: US$8.06
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0571099157
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Crow was Ted Hughes's fourth book of poems for adults and a pivotal moment in his writing career. In it, he found both a structure and a persona that gave his vision a new power and coherence. A. Alvarez wrote in the Observer, 'Each fresh encounter with despair becomes the occasion for a separate, almost funny, story in which natural forces and creatures, mythic figures, even parts of the body, act out their special roles, each endowed with its own irrepressible life. With Crow, Hughes joins the select band of survivor-poets whose work is adequate to the destructive reality we inhabit'. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars The World of Crow
Eerie, Dark, Without Emotion is Ted Hughes' Crow.This small book of poetry takes us on a journey into the Stark and Selfish World of Crow.Crow defies all; even God.

It is not irony that Hughes dedicated this book to the memory of Assia and Shura.

At times it seems Crow is the personification of Hughes himself.

I find Crow to be a very beautiful, albeit nihilistic book of verse.

5-0 out of 5 stars Stark, disturbing, but strangely exhilarating
In this slim but powerful volume of poetry, Ted Hughes creates poems like bare bones, blood-blackened stones, jagged icicles, all that's defiant & frightened & forever struggling against a meaningless Universe & an often malevolent God. Crow is a figure of myth, a hungry, hardscrabble chaos of feathers & dark dreams -- sometimes a trickster, sometimes a victim, sometimes a guide, sometimes a Prometheus of sorts. He inhabits an utterly bleak world ... and yet, there's a tremendous energy & bare beauty to these poems. Crow is Death & also Life, setting himself against infinite forces, a battered symbol of soul & negation both. Not for every taste, of course, but recommended for those who view the pain & mystery of existence with an unblinking eye.
... Read more

3. The Iron Man
by Ted Hughes
Paperback: 64 Pages (2005-03-03)
list price: US$10.35 -- used & new: US$2.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0571226124
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Mankind must put a stop to the dreadful destruction caused by the Iron Man. A trap is set for him, but he cannot be kept down. Then, when a terrible monster from outer space threatens to lay waste to the planet, it is the Iron Man who finds a way to save the world. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars Not Free SF Reader
A kid's story, with a large robot monster and an alien invader.What is not to like?Doesn't insult the intelligence of the child, either.The Iron Giant turns from super villain, when laying waste to places, to super hero, when he saves the area from a giant fire breathing space monster, and perhaps gains a friend.

5-0 out of 5 stars A childhood classic revived.
Bought the Iron Giant video, paperback, and this original version so my college age son could enjoy them again and keep them for his future family.

4-0 out of 5 stars a little short, but really good
This was a very satisfying read, with the Iron Man and all, but it was a little bit short. This is supposed to be a children's book, but actually, the end expresses Ted Hughes' views on world peace. Very good for a children's story. I think that the part where they trap the IM is a little sad; after all, he does try to escape, and again, the adults laugh with glee, leaving the kid Hogarth to feel guilty.

5-0 out of 5 stars Childhood favourite
This was my favourite book as a kid, and the book I learned to read from. My mother read it to me over & over until I knew it off by heart. Now, I'm buying it for my son. ... Read more

4. Ted Hughes: The Life of a Poet
by Elaine Feinstein
Paperback: 304 Pages (2003-02)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$7.83
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393323625
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Product 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. 12 b/w photographs. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (17)

5-0 out of 5 stars Briliant!
Elaine Feinstein, British poet and writer, herself an acquantaince of Hughes, succeeded in writing a fine and clear account of Hughes' prolific career as a poet. This book is very non-biased, well researched, and expertly written. Feinstein taps into Hughes' unique and artistic interpretation of the world, and shows how is poetry reflects that. Feinstein writes that Hughes himself "was not writing to stun or to startle, but to understand," and Feinstein achieves as well a clear understanding of Hughes in his own right, not as the murderous mysogynist some may believe him to be. She focuses on Hughes' interest in mysticism, folk talkes, the occult, British as well as world literature, and his strong sense of individualism. Brilliant book, I'd reccomend it strongly to any interested in Hughes, Plath, or poetry.

5-0 out of 5 stars Survivorship
Hughes as a callow husband is a caricature.He was born in Yorkshire in 1930.His father had served in the Lancashire Fusiliers in the First World War. World War II gave Ted Hughes the opportunity to learn to cope with material scarcity.The 1944 Education Act enabled any brilliant student to pursue admission to Oxbridge.He attended Mexborough Grammar School.In 1948 he won an Open Competition to Pembroke College, Cambridge.His personal canon of poets by thenincluded Rilke, Yeats, Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Keats, and Hopkins.After national service, he entered Pembroke in 1951 to read English.Hughes felt that for reason of social rancour, the university was a destructive experience for him.He had natural reserve and natural good manners and made an impression on contemporaries.He found it hard to write poetry as an undergraduate, but his dedication to becoming a poet did not lessen.Ted was fascinated by the theories of Robert Graves.

Ted Hughes married Sylvia Plath when she was at Cambridge on a Fulbright Scholarship.In some respects the couple wanted to live like D.H. Lawrence and Frieda.Sylvia, though, was not really suited to a vagabond life.She sought a secure existence in financial terms.Fortunately Ted looked forward to meeting American poets at Smith College where Sylvia was to be an instructor.He found it difficult to function in America.Leaving Horthampton for a freelance writing life in Boston pleased Ted but made Sylvia anxious.In 1959 the couple was determined to return to England.Ted, among other things, feared American conformity.

In April 1959 Ted was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.He wrote material for the BBC.Much of Ted's spirit was sacrificed to placate Sylvia.By this time Frieda had been born.The family moved to Court Green in Devon in 1961.At that time THE BELL JAR was completed.Ted became convinced, in retrospect, that it had been an error to move to Devon.Nicholas was born in 1962.Ted and Sylvia separated after Ted developed a friendship with Assia Wevill.Nevertheless, they went as a couple to Ireland, and made plans to go to Spain.Sylvia was writing.In her intense love of syllables she resembled Ezra Pound.

Sylvia sought a divorce, not Ted.By December 1962 she had moved back to London.Ted gave her money and lived on funds borrowed from his aunt.In the final week of her life Sylvia confessed to Ted that a divorce was the last thing she wanted.Assia felt her own life was linked to Ted's through Sylvia's death.Ted was determined to publish Sylvia's last poems.He considered them stunning.Olwyn, Ted's sister, was to help with the children.Ted became an advocate for other poets.He supported poetry in translation.Poetry was seen as a spiritual strength.Sylvia Plath's worldwide fame was posthumous.

Ted lost his mother, Assia, and their daughter Shura around the same time.In 1970 he married Carol Orchard.Hughes released his copyright claim to Aurelia Plath to enable her to publish LETTERS HOME.
The problem was that Sylvia Plath's letters were not an accurate statement of the facts.The portrait that emerged of Hughes was extremely damaging.

Vilified by Sylvia's supporters, Ted was urged by friends to tell his own story.He was appointed Poet Laureate December, 1984.Ted came to feel that he had made a mistake in suppressing Sylvia's personal problems.He had sought to protect the feelings of his children and Sylvia's mother.Anne Stevenson's book, BITTER FAME, came out in 1989.

In the end Ted decided that in poetry he must confront his ghosts.BIRTHDAY LETTERS, 1997, tells his own story.He died of a heart attack in 1998.Ted Hughes discovered his poetic voice early.This book details the ruses a major poetic talent was compelled to use to circumvent the downward pull of Plath's mega-fame.Everyone will enjoy reading how Ted Hughes averted a catastrophic blow to his own life prospects.He was very steady in output and very brave.

4-0 out of 5 stars Intricate portrait of a man raised by women
I know that a good number of people would purchase this biography on the basis of what new light could be shed on Ted Hughes' relationship with you-know-who, or through curiosity on what the infamous poet was really like, from birth to death, but either way, I think you'll be satisfied and a whole lot more once you put it down.

I checked this out at my local library and became immersed in every chapter in no time flat. The book is hard to put down because it is written extremely well and offers broad insight into everything that made Hughes who he was. It's obvious that Hughes was a very engaging presence even in childhood, and the biography, like so many others, inevitably plunges into his first meeting and ultimately unstable relationship with Sylvia Plath (an entire chapter serves as a quick summary of Plath's life before the fated meeting).

What separates this biography from, say, "Her Husband", is that after Plath commits suicide, the book carries on in Hughes' favor, chronicling his rather difficult life onward, indulging us with every detail as to the seemingly major damage done to his reputation in the wake of Plath and Assia's suicide, his short-lived relationships with the few women in his later years, his artistic struggles, and his eventual redemption. The book does not glorify him or draw a biased line just because it's his biography, although some would beg to differ; it simply tells it like it is. Some moments of his life were great, but most were rife with darkness, and it makes you understand that he was not a man to be hated for his indiscretions, but a man to be cherished for his grand vision and bold demeanor. There is no question that he and Plath, two extraordinary poets that made each other famous, have made their peace in the afterlife.

4-0 out of 5 stars A job half- done
Elaine Feinstein writes clearly and with fairness and affection about Ted Hughes. She gives a general idea of his life. She does not however really try to deal with the central moral question about Hughes life and work. And this is the question of his relation to women and why two central relationships in his life ended in disaster.
Feinstein also does not write about Hughes wife of many years, nor really about his children. The picture we then have is very incomplete.
There is a sense of some kind of ' cover-up' and this is increased when it becomes apparent that not only was Feinstein a friend of Hughes she was a quite close friend of Hughes sister who has a major part in the whole Plath controvery .
There too is no deep reading of the poetry.
Nonetheless there is an appreciation of Hughes relation to his parents his brother and his sister, his Yorkshire background. The true biography of Hughes however waits to be written.

5-0 out of 5 stars A fine example of the art of biography
TED HUGHES: THE LIFE OF A POET by Elaine Feinstein was a fabulously engaging read about the "other half" of the famous Sylvia Plath-Suicide Poet story. Hughes, born in Yorkshire, read English, Anthropology and Archeology at Cambridge, and met Plath, the ambitious American while she was on a Fulbright to Cambridge, after he had graduated. Their meeting was violent and dramatic (she bit him on the cheek when they kissed at a party he had brought another date to), and they quickly married. They had two children, and after she discovered his affair with another woman, they separated. During a harsh London winter, Plath killed herself by putting her head in an oven and leaving on the gas, and Hughes suffered the weight of that death for pretty much the rest of his life. That's the short story. The long version, as told in Feinstein's book is fair, multilayered, well and accessibly written, and includes informative critical comments of his work, and follows the path of his career. After Plath's death, Hughes maintained a relationship with the object of his affair, Assia Wevill, and other women. She had a daughter with him, and suffering her own depression, she killed herself AND their daughter within 10 years of Sylvia's death. Hughes was marked by some feminists as a horror of a husband, which was based on Sylvia's own viewpoint in her poems (poems that Hughes published, even though he was horrified at Sylvia's use of personal incidents for public poetry). Later, Hughes married a woman named Carol Orchard, and they were married for nearly 30years. He also seems to have had numerous affairs in his life, and yet found Carol to be a stabilizing influence. Feinstein's work is important because she gives us a fuller picture of Britain's Poet Laureate Hughes (a work she began after his death in 1998 from cancer). Hughes, in an effort to protect his children with Plath, Freida and Nicholas, liked to maintain privacy about his life with Plath (and also, one suspects, because he just WAS private). When his book of poems about Plath was published in the years before his death, BIRTHDAY LETTERS, positive feeling was overwhelming for him, as people read the beautiful poems that spelled out his love, fear, hurt, empathy and his sense of powerlessness in the face of Plath's need in his relationship with her. This is a book you may read with other books around. I got out Plath's COLLECTED POEMS and Hughes's LUPERCAL and BIRTHDAY LETTERS to refer to. I recommend this biography to anyone. The dramatic events of his life make this compelling to those who have never read a word of his poems, and it stands as well, as fine example of the art of biography alone. Feinstein, who knew Hughes socially after the death of Plath, is sympathetic to him, but fair, I felt. As the quote on the book states, this is a book that needed to be written. It was written well. ... Read more

5. Letters of Ted Hughes
by Ted Hughes
Hardcover: 784 Pages (2008-09-16)
list price: US$45.00 -- used & new: US$9.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374185301
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Ted Hughes described letter-writing as “excellent training for conversation with the world.” These nearly 300 letters—selected from several thousand—show him in all his aspects: poet, husband and father, lover of the natural world, proud Englishman, and a man for whom literature was a way of being fully alive to experience.
There are letters dealing with Hughes’s work on classic books, from the early breakthrough Lupercal to the late, revelatory Birthday Letters. There are letters discussing, with notable frankness, his marriages to Sylvia Plath and then to Assia Wevill. After marrying Carol Orchard, in 1970, Hughes ran a farm in Dorset for several years, and there are letters touching on his interest in
astrology, his strong and original views of Shakespeare, and his passion for farming, fishing, and the environment in general. Letters to Seamus Heaney and Philip Larkin situate Hughes among his peers as never before.
Letters of Ted Hughes reveals the author as a prose writer of great vigor and subtlety. It deepens our understanding of—and our admiration for—this great twentieth-century poet.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars History is Not Done With Hughes
The first draft of history (i.e. journalism) has not been kind to Ted Hughes, but he has little to worry about. When the Complete Poems came out, the review in Poetry magazine made the plausible argument that Hughes is the greatest poet in English since Shakespeare. In addition to a controversial book on the man he called Shakes, Hughes wrote more than 40 volumes of poetry, criticism, stage and radio plays, classical translations, children's books, and anthologies. In the years since his death, complete editions of his efforts in many of these disciplines have appeared, in England first and in the US subsequently. Now we are presented with a Selected Letters by his editor Christopher Reid; these have been chosen from more than 3000 written with great verve and intensity to a number of close friends, fans, students, and any number of the great and famous. It is an astonishing book.

For poets and writers not poisoned by the views of American feminists who have thoroughly martyrized his first wife, the letters provide an opportunity to truly hear the intimate voice of a special artist and eavesdrop on the British literary milieu in which he conducted himself with honor and trepidation. T.S. Eliot, Auden, Spender, Larkin, the Royals, and Heaney all make an appearance. His love of and advocacy for the work of his first wife and for the Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai are striking. Americans on the scene include Leonard Baskin, the distinguished printmaker who collaborated on many books with Hughes, W.S. Merwin, especially during his years in England, with references to Donald Hall and Galway Kinnell. The emphasis on the English scene is understandable given the treatment Hughes experienced at the hands of Americans; much of his life is insular and rural to a shocking degree. The happiest times of his life were spent on the farms and rivers of England; he loved fishing and most of his American adventures late in life were fishing trips in Alaska, safely away from the literary maelstrom. The degree to which he and his family fought against the notorious attacks that dogged him all his life casts a dark shadow throughout this book.

Some of the letters are quite lengthy and explain his influences and working procedures in great detail. The amount of time he wasted on radio plays and the theater is remarkable; he always seemed to yearn after success in a field not naturally his own, like Tchaikovsky wanting to write a great opera, and only late in life is Hughes explicit in his hatred of prose! Like Yeats, one of his heros, Hughes is inordinately fond of primitive myths and legends, whether Egyptian, Greek, Welsh, Celtic, Irish etc., from which he creates a confusing stew of mistaken identities. The figure of "Crow", certainly his greatest book and most important creation, is conflated with an entire series of mythical figures without mentioning his own self-identification. Hughes knows nothing of modern science or medicine. He believes in astrology and casts horoscopes for himself and other artists, asks that his books appear on particular days and recommends faith healers for serious conditions, including Larkin's bout with cancer. The supposed killer of two women, one of whom was a literary genius, comes off as a soft-headed acolyte of New Ageism. As a writer I revere Hughes, his "Crow" (1970) helped form me as a poet; as a scientist, I find his views appalling.

Still the reading of these Selected Letters is an absolutely compulsive experience. Acute observation of natural phenomena and human peculiarity are combined with off-hand use of metaphor and idiosyncratic spelling. There are great set-pieces on bull-fighting in Spain, fishing in Africa and cocktail chit-chat everywhere else. There are many wonderful things said about Shakespeare, how Hughes felt about his contemporaries and how he dealt with the Royals. Hughes was the only Poet Laureate of England who was not destroyed in his reputation by the work he did in his official capacity. That America has yet to come to grips with his greatness is no surprise but his revenge on the first draft of history is certain; these Letters are yet another blow from beyond the grave.

5-0 out of 5 stars The rest is posthumous
Just as Sylvia Plath's journals and letters home construct an autobiography of her, The Letters of Ted Hughes form a partial autobiography of him. The poems in Crow changed the way I viewed him as a poet; and Nick Gammage's The Epic Poise changed the way I viewed him as a man. These letters continue to evolve the image of Ted Hughes, which frankly had nowhere to go but up. Occasionally I asked myself, "Should I be reading these?", just as I ask myself that same question when I regularly read Plath's journals and letters. But the answer is always, "Yes."

This book, the first of its kind for a man who was known to be a very private person, further opens Ted Hughes. Similarly, in some way, to those "raw and unguarded" Birthday Letters. When Hughes sold his archive to Atlanta, he allowed for the demolition of that private wall he had built up around him. His archives are open in Atlanta, and another will be in the coming year in London, allowing further access into his life and his mind. Perhaps these letters, selected and edited by Christopher Reid, are not as candid as his private journals are, but over the many decades of Hugheses writing life, these letters show many phases of this controversial man. They make for fascinating reading and remind me of what a good writer he was. Throughout the book, Hughes constantly looks back and what had had done - creatively - and talks about what he should (or could) have done. I wonder if his late confession that writing and publishing Birthday Letters really did free him? Being on this end of the creative process allows for a unique perspective into Hugheses writing habits, publishing habits, etc. We're on the outside looking in; while at the same time on the inside looking out. Hughes was always amenable to collaboration, most successfully with Fay Goodwin in The Remains of Elmet and Seamus Heaney in The Rattle Bag and The School Bag. But, one wonders if the collaboration was done as a distraction, or a way to avoid certain things, or if he hoped it would spawn poems. But, from all this wonderful correspondence, the one major selling point - to peanut crunchers like you and like me, is the life, death, and afterlife of his first wife, Sylvia Plath.

The love letters to Sylvia Plath are beautiful. It makes one wish their courtship was longer. In a world of short & staccato emails and incomprehensible & abbreviated text messages, it is reassuring to read actual love letters. However, from the height of this courtship, the letters reach their nadir in the late summer 1962 letter to his sister, Olwyn Hughes, where the discussion focuses on his need for cash, to "swell a private account." This is a far, far cry from the letters addressed to his "kish and puss and ponk." And the letter from September 1962, also to Olwyn, is one of those curious ones sent maybe from London by Alvarez or someone else, when he may have been in Spain already with Assia Wevill. From 1963 until the end of his life, the letters to Plath's family or friends, those regarding Plath publications, and Hughes' attitudes about Plath the poet and Plath the person make revelatory reading. For those whose only knowledge of their relationship was through biographies or even through the poems in Birthday Letters, the gains in understanding may be incalculable. Any letter included in this volume regarding Sylvia Plath should help to understand certain decisions and attitudes held and made by the Estate. If there are more letters out there, we can hope they too will be published or come to view, as well.

The letters to Assia Wevill never quite match the passion of those to Sylvia Plath, but the nature of the relationship was so different that comparing them seems unfair. These letter say to me that she was just the other woman. Fortunately there is material about her (A Lover of Unreason) that does give her more presence. The letters from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s are fascinating, and there are spikes of interest that where the topic is Plath publications, biographies, and controversies.

A huge change occurs in letters of 1997 and 1998. Hughes really begins to open up autobiographically. And, in particular, the letters just before and after the publication of Birthday Letters leading up to the last one are extraordinary. I found his surprise at the response and reaction to publishing Birthday Letters to be genuine; but that being said, I cannot fathom what would have happened had he published them sooner. The 1970s were marred by the rise of feminism; the "letters" just would not have been accepted. This carried into the 1980s when her Collected Poems & Journals were published. The later 1980s and early 1990s saw the rise of the Plath biography machine; making his own story seem defensive in a way; they could have been read as a corrective and would not have helped much. So, the timing being what it was, was just about perfect; it is unfortunate that he was declining in health. By 1998, things had quieted down enough to make the reception optimal. And, it worked.

The best letters selected show Hughes supporting other poets & collaborating with a variety of artists and those to Frieda and Nicholas. His love for fishing is evident in the many letters on this topic and make - to my surprise - probably the most interesting reading. They show his most natural talent for detail, description, communicating, and living. The photographs portray those closest to Hughes, and of particular interest were photographs of Frieda and Nicholas. Seeing them with their mother as babies, it was astonishing to see them as toddlers, children, and young adults. Frieda has been more of a public figure than Nicholas, and while I respect both of their rights to privacy, I could not help being moved in the photograph of Nicholas and the Pike. Afterall, he was "the one solid the spaces lean on, envious."

Though many letters are already held in archives, seeing them in a single volume makes for enlightening reading. However autobiographical they are, Christopher Reid is in the role of storyteller through his selecting and editing of these letters. The notes indicate many instances where text is missing, and one wonders what letters were not selected and what they may - or may not - add to this one-way life of the poet. Reid's notes, which follow many letters and introduce many "chapters" are informative and occasionally witty (I believe in text messaging this would be LOL & a smiley face). A nice touch. As someone who knew Hughes and worked with him, I wonder how much influence his image of Ted Hughes played in the selection? Regardless of any possible bias that may have gone into the selection, The Letters of Ted Hughes appears to me to be well-balanced.

To those who contributed to the volume: a big thank you. Perhaps one day another collected edition of letters will be published, allowing for a deeper understanding of this man and opening up new layers and connections to 20th century poetry. Throughout the book, letters mentioning Sylvia Plath of course piqued my interest. It was challenging not to jump to the index and read these first. But, the whole story is worth waiting for, so I recommend reading the book from start to finish. It is a moving experience. And then go back as necessary to re-read letters by person or by year or whatever. That being said, there is so much in this 756 page book that reading the letters straight through almost cheats the reader of absorbing everything. This book will be a valuable resource for those interested in the Plath/Hughes story and I hope that upon re-reading certain letters, more can be discerned & known about his side of the story. ... Read more

6. Ariel's Gift: Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, and the Story of Birthday Letters
by Erica Wagner
Paperback: 320 Pages (2002-04-17)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$7.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393323013
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Editorial Review

Product Description
When Ted Hughes's Birthday Letters was published in 1998, it was greeted with astonishment and acclaim, immediately landing on the bestseller list. Few suspected that Hughes had been at work for a quarter of a century on this cycle of poems addressed to his first wife, Sylvia Plath. In Ariel's Gift, Erica Wagner explores the destructive relationship between these two poets through their lives and their writings. She provides a commentary to the poems in Birthday Letters, showing the events that shaped them and, crucially, showing how they draw upon Plath's own work. 8 pages of b/w photographs. ... Read more

7. Sylvia Plath Poems: Selected by Ted Hughes (Poet to Poet: An Essential Choice of Classic Verse)
by Sylvia Plath
Paperback: 80 Pages (2000-04-03)

Isbn: 0571203582
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8. Collected Poems
by Ted Hughes
Hardcover: 1376 Pages (2003-11-15)
list price: US$50.00 -- used & new: US$32.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374125384
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
All the poems of a great 20th-century poet

From the astonishing debut Hawk in the Rain (1957) to Birthday Letters (1998), Ted Hughes was one of postwar literature's truly prodigious poets. This remarkable volume gathers all of his work, from his earliest poems (published only in journals) through the ground-breaking volumes Crow (1970), Gaudete(1977), and Tales from Ovid (1997). It includes poems Hughes composed for fine-press printers, poems he wrote as England's Poet Laureate, and those children's poems that he meant for adults as well. This omnium-gatherum of Hughes's work is animated throughout by a voice that, as Seamus Heaney remarked, was simply "longer and deeper and rougher" than those of his contemporaries.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars WINGBURSTS
For me Hughes is the great poet of the past century and perhaps the greatest since Wild Bill Shakespeare. The sooner you get into this BIG book the sooner you will enter a place where language lifts into spirit and all your received ideas about poetry blow away. In English, Hart Crane took the first step at creating a music that rides above mere meaning where words gather force from their magnetic auras. I am reminded of Beethoven who wrote back to a musician complaining of the difficulty of his writing, Do you think I think of your wretched fiddle when I write my music? Beside Hughes, Crane now seems stiff and over-varnished. In Hughes words enter a quantum universe, are never in the same place twice, and forever split open with fresh bursts of meaning. Even so you have to get past the early stuff (as with Shakespeare's early history plays) to find Hughes at hurricane force.
Let me recommend as well his translations of Greek and Roman plays and his Phedre where his lines rip away all musty classicism and slap your imagination to life: you are just born and learning to taste with the tongues of the ancients.
Note in the other reviews here how Hughes loosens the reviewers' chains and urges them to dance on coals and burn their feet in service to the Goddess.

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing, Amazing.Amazing.
Without a doubt the best thing I've read in half a year. A keeper, a gem, a wealth between covers.What a book. What a writer. His flow, rhythm, depth, lilt, phrasing are unequalled by any contemporary writer I know.He was a great, great writer and this book does justice to his memory.

5-0 out of 5 stars !!!FIRE-VERVE!!!
a creative poet, one whose syntactical leaps into innovation forever shine and shock-thrill, an aggressive poet, one who breeds the leopard, who polishes the claw, who is quite willing to gash, hate-slice and bedevil.known for having encouraged silvia plath to allow her ear to be bitten on their first date - his odd love poems in some of his first collection of poetry a gem-marvel into obscurity and tangled emotion.he is a brilliant surveyor of the jungle of irrationality - truly entertaining in his blush with the minotaur of tradition, a mangled mind of pure scourge and lava.

author of Lorelei Pursued and Wrestles with God

5-0 out of 5 stars Ted Hughes...Poetical Perfection!...
Ted Hughes "Collected" should not be missed by anyone who loves poetry and wants a base of inexhaustible grist for their "mill".
Incredibly, some, including apparently a well meaning reviewer here for Amazon have come to see Ted Hughes as adjunct in importance to his one time wife, Sylvia Plath..."Mr. Plath"?! Please! For the poet in the know this is a laugher!...Sylvia was a bright shining star, but history will note that she could never eclipse her one time husband in either sphere or poetical influence...Hughes work in the realm of the meta-physical animal world around us, which Sylvia tried at times to dabble in is only equaled by poets like Jim Dickey, Don Hall, or Bob Frost.
The "Crow" cycle as has been mentioned elsewhere is incredible and mind blowing for those who stumble upon it for the first time...Hughes Crow work included completely here, reads like passages from a second Bible. You can see the timeless quality in this and all of Hughes work that will continue to influence poets down the road...
Don't miss his work on the "Jaguar" and even his juvenalia work is outstanding...
If you're a poet who wants wood for his fire, there isn't anything smaller here than heavy cedar. Go for your kindling elsewhere..This sterling collection of poems I highly recommend will cook up for you a bonfire of images and ideas that won't fail to keep you warm on a cold winter's night while they send a cool chill down your spine on a hot summer's day...

5-0 out of 5 stars Bury the Hate, Celebrate the Greatness
Ted Hughes has been reviled for over four decades for his part in the life and death ofthe poet Sylvia Plath. So strong is her mythology that many have relegated Hughes to a minor role, a bit player, in her epic tragedy. Plath was an astonishing and powerful poet. In the end she became one of the best poets of the twentieth century. So did her one-time husband.

Ted Hughes evidently had a great many faults both specifically as a man and more generally as a human being. This book has nothing to do with that, for either good or bad. Anyone familiar with the private lives of such artists as James Joyce and Picasso already know that artistic greatness does not guarantee moral greatness. We rightly celebrate their work.

This book collects the work of someone who touched greatness many times over a long and distinguished career. It includes not only the "official" editions originally published by Faber and Faber, but also work from literary journals and small-press editions. It is a volume from which Hughes work volcanically erupts, rather than develop in small increments.

"Crow" is one of the great cycle of poems in the English language. At last we can see other poems that both led to and came after this landmark work. Hughes revisited and revised throughout his career, and this volume does not cheat us of this growth. There are poems with the same content but possessing different names. There are poems with the same name but different contents. All have their place in the lexicon presented here.

Ted Huges was much more than "Mr. Plath." An accomplished poet, a skilled translator, a visionary, Ted Hughes' work transcends Ted Hughes. We must celebrate his work and let it take its place amongst the other great works of our times. Revisit what you may have already known of his poems. Discover the work that is new and glorious to you. And know that one may transcend personal limitations and achieve greatness. ... Read more

9. Memories of Ted Hughes 1952-1963
by Daniel Huws
Paperback: 60 Pages (2010-02-17)
-- used & new: US$6.92
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1905512759
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10. Selected Poems 1957-1994
by Ted Hughes
Paperback: 333 Pages (2002-10-09)
list price: US$17.00 -- used & new: US$0.71
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374528640
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Poems from every phase of the career of a great poet

This selection of Ted Hughes's poetry, made by the author himself in 1995, includes poems from every phase of his four-decade career. Here are poems from Hughes's first book, The Hawk in the Rain, and its successor, Lupercal, which introduced him as a major poet; from Wodwo, Crow and Gaudete, book-length poetic sequences in which the natural world is made into a thrilling and terror-filled analogue to our human one; and from six volumes of his maturity, here arranged thematically, in which the poet is at once rural chronicler and form-breaking modern artist. The volume also includes previously uncollected poems and eight poems later incorporated into Birthday Letters, Hughes's meditation in verse on his marriage to Sylvia Plath, which became an international bestseller the year after his death.
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Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Ted Hughes' Selected Poems
This volume collects a representative and handy group of poems by Ted Hughes, a must have if you like his work ... Read more

11. The Iron Giant
by Ted Hughes
Paperback: 96 Pages (1999-07-20)
list price: US$5.50 -- used & new: US$1.99
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Asin: 0375801537
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
From Ted Hughes, England's Poet Laureate,Knopf is proud to present a children's classic which has been unavailable in the U.S. for many years.First published in 1968, The Iron Giant is a modern fantasy about a massive giant who stalks the earth devouring metal, terrifying farmers and townspeople everywhere. Despite his insatiable hunger, the Iron Giant is quite gentle and good-natured, though the townspeople are too frightened of him to realize it.So they capture him and put him in a scrapyard, where he happily stuffs himself with stoves and bicycles.The people forget about the Iron Giant until a space-bat the size of Australia hovers over the earth, poised to destroy it.Earth needs a hero and only the Iron Giant is big enough and brave enough to do battle with the hideous creature from outer space.With a tractor-eating giant, a menacing space-bat, and a young boy-hero, The Iron Giant is an accessible, early chapter book with plenty of appeal for reluctant readers and budding science fiction and fantasy fans.Amazon.com Review
A huge, mysterious iron man stands at the top of a cliff, surveying theocean. His eyes glow white, red, infrared. Then, he lifts one enormous footand steps out into nothingness. Crraaasssssh! His head, arms, legs, ears,hands all break off as he tumbles onto the rocks below. The end of thestory? No, it's only the beginning of this modernparable of peace in the universe. The Iron Giant has an insatiable appetitefor barbed wire, tractors, and rusty chains. While farmers and townspeoplerun around trying to stop him, destroy him, capture him, only one boyunderstands what must be done. Meanwhile, an even bigger threat hovers overthe land, in the shape of an evil-looking space-bat-angel-dragon. How willthe people of the world survive the impending doom?

Ted Hughes, poet laureate of England, first wrote this compelling tall talein 1968. Clearly, the need for its message of peace has not diminished inthe decades since. Simple, repetitive sentences carry the mesmerizingspirit of traditional fairy tales. And Andrew Davidson's black-and-whiteillustrations, with their menacing air and timeless appeal, drive the pointhome in vivid style. (Ages 8 and older) --Emilie Coulter ... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

3-0 out of 5 stars If you loved the movie, Don't read the book!
If you are thinking about buying this book because you and your kids love the Brad Bird/Warner Bros. film of the same name, don't. Yes, this is the book that they based the movie on, but other than having a large metal man and a boy named Hogarth, there aren't a lot of similarities. Both the Giant and Hogarth are very hard to empathize with or relate to. (Spoiler alert!)In the book, the Iron Giant hardly notices humans. Hogarth betrays the Giant by louring him into a trap so that he can be buried alive. It's OK, though, because the Giant frees himself to save the people of Earth from an alien space monster, after he has been sufficiently bribed, of course. I'm not sure what lesson this story is supposed to teach children or what impressions they are supposed to come away with. I actually felt sorry for the space monster.

If you have not seen the film, but liked Pete Townsend's musical of the story, then you just might enjoy the book. The musical is very similar to the book, but fills in some of the holes in the story. What you will get out of the book is Ted Hughes narrative style, which is amusing to read. This book is also great as a comparison piece for studying script writing adaptations.

If you are just picking up the book to read to your kids at bedtime, your children will have some hard questions for you by the end of it. Be sure to read this book with your own child in mind before you share it with them. My daughter found the story just a little creepy, and it sparked some interesting discussions on the morality of slavery and how to deal with peer pressure. Ted Hughes said he wrote the book for his children to cheer them and help them deal with the death of their mother. It might have worked as a distraction, but I don't find it very cheerful, other than the incredibly forced "happy ending."

5-0 out of 5 stars Favorite childhood book
Poetically written, metaphorically sound, and a joy to read.

I used to read this roughly twice a week when I was 8 or 9.Picked it up again recently.

Amazingly relevant and formative in the academic direction I took.

Still can't bring myself to watch the film however.

5-0 out of 5 stars Childhood classic.
Bought the Iron Giant video, paperback, and the original version (The Iron Man) so my college age son could enjoy them again and keep them for his future family.

5-0 out of 5 stars A children's book
I bought this book because I loved the movie.

This was also a really cool book, but it's very different from the movie.There are actually only a few concepts taken from this book that made it into the movie--a) that the iron giant can fix himself, b) that the boy's name is Hogarth, and c) that the iron giant eats metal.Nothing else is the same, really.

Brad Bird is a genius to make the movie he did out of this book.

I didn't realize this, but the book was written in 1968.It's very much in children's book format, with small, chunk-sized stories, that would be very fun to read out loud.

Overall I really enjoyed this book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Very Different from the Movie
I first saw "The Iron Giant" as a movie and it's a fantastic movie. When I saw a copy of the book for sale I quickly snatched it up, I thought I would read it with my daughter.

The thing that first surprised me about this book is that it is beautifully written. It's obvious from its prose that Ted Hughes is also a poet. The slightly sophisticated language might be too much for those under 7, but I found it refreshingly charming.

The second surprise was that this book had very little to do with the movie. There's an Iron Giant in the movie and book as well as a young boy...and that's about it. The theme's are the same (in that this world can be a world of peace instead of a world of violence and fear) but both approach this lesson from different directions.

In the book, the Iron Giant, tricked by the boy, falls into a trap set for him by fearful farmers. The farmers quickly dispose of the giant, but the giant returns and it's up to the boy again to figure out how best to deal with him. In the end the boy and giant become friends but there is a bigger threat on the horizon, a space dragon the size of Australia has come to earth and only the Iron Giant can save the planet.

There's a lot of deep information here for such a short children's book.The Iron Giant (like in the movie) represents misguided fear. The space dragon can mean a number of things, but I align it with this planets habit of aggression... an aggression that threatens to consume us all. This book was written 30 years ago, but it seems timelier now than it did in the 1970's.
... Read more

12. Tales from Ovid: 24 Passages from the Metamorphoses
by Ted Hughes
Paperback: 272 Pages (1999-03-30)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$2.06
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374525870
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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A powerful version of the Latin classic by England's late Poet Laureate, now in paperback.When it was published in 1997, Tales from Ovid was immediately recognized as a classic in its own right, as the best rering of Ovid in generations, and as a major book in Ted Hughes's oeuvre. The Metamorphoses of Ovid stands with the works of Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Milton as a classic of world poetry; Hughes translated twenty-four of its stories with great power and directness. The result is the liveliest twentieth-century version of the classic, at once a delight for the Latinist and an appealing introduction to Ovid for the general reader.
Amazon.com Review
England's poet laureate Ted Hughes first turned his hand toOvid's Metamorphoses whenhe--along with other prominent English-language poets such as Seamus Heaney,AmyClampitt, and CharlesSimic--contributed poems to the anthology After Ovid. Inthe three years following After Ovid's publication, Hughescontinued working with the Metamorphoses, eventually completingthe 24 translations collected here. Culling from 250 original tales,Hughes has chosen some of the most violent and disturbing narrativesOvid wrote, including the stories of Echo and Narcissus, Bacchus andPentheus, and Semele's rape by Jove. Classical purists may be offendedat the occasional liberties Hughes takes with Ovid's words, but no onewill quarrel with the force and originality of Hughes's verse, or withits narrative skill. This translation is an unusual triumph--a workinformed by the passion and wit of Ovid, yet suffused with Hughes'sown distinctive poetic sensibility. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great selections. Excellent translation
The 24 selections of Ovid's Metamorphoses that Ted Hughes translated is so modern and orginal, after reading Tales from Ovid by Ovid, Ted Hughes, I wish Hughes had translated the entire epic.

Hughes is a brilliant poet and the way he wield words dazzled me for hours:

Then Narcissus wept into the pool.
His tears shattered the still shrine
And his image blurred.
He cried after it: "Don't leave me.
If I cannot touch you at least let me see you.
Let me nourish my starving, luckless love-
If only by looking".

Beautiful, huh?

5-0 out of 5 stars Stories Fading into Oblivion
I agree with most of the positive reviewers of this book, in fact, it's a wonderful book. It's 24 or 25 freely translated, modernized Greek myths in their Ovidian versions, out of 250 or so that Ovid wrote. In the introduction, Hughes said that the stories had become part of our culture's subconscious memory, and it occured to me that that may no longer be true, and that Hughes' work of preservation here and in his anthologies of poetry had a certain touching hopefulness to it. These are great stories with implications way beyond their obvious meanings. The great enemy of mankind's future, it seems to me, and as many other people have said, is Corporate Mankind: the unpoetic, the emotionally deaf, unmusical person, greedy and mendacious. Man becoming a kind of technologically sophisticated, highly organized human insect.Anyway, Hughes was one of the people who hoped this was not our fate and who tried to do something about it. This book was one of the ways, probably the most delightful, engaging of his efforts. His versions of these myths could not be improved upon.

5-0 out of 5 stars Re:Yeah Man
To answer bayoubill's question regarding this book: "When will he translate the rest of the Metamorphoses? The Odyssey?"While that would have been great to see, Ted Hughes died about a year after the publication of Tales from Ovid.Ted's dead, bayoubill. Ted's dead.

By the way, excellent translation.Those who want to move on to read the Metamorphoses in its entirety would do well to read the 2003 Charles Martin translation, which is also excellent.

5-0 out of 5 stars Yeah man
It makes love to your mind.When will he translate the rest of the Metamorphoses?The Odyssey?Go Ted, go.

5-0 out of 5 stars brilliant stuff
As an appropriation of an appropriation, hughes' manages to bring to life the classic tales of greek mythology and modernize ovid's original tales yet at the same time keeping up the essential message that ovid was bringing across 2000 years ago. Even if you do'nt speak English one could understand teh works of hughes' perfectly, his range of vocabulary is genius in itself. the language slips and slides around your mouth, burning like brimstone or as languid as lagoons.
try this for size:

Violence is an extrapolation
Of the cutting edge
Into the orbit of the smile

Rivers of milk mingled with rivers of nectar
and out of the black oak oozed amber honey

I must confess I have to read this for my literature course, but I am so glad that I did! I never would have picked it up otherwise, whilst seemingly sophisticated and slippery it is simultaneously so simple and easy to relate to in a way that hardly condescends or patronizes the reader's understanding.
I strongly recommend this book to anyone, even if you don't speak english, even if you don't understand some of the words, it's the way it sounds that counts.
Read it with your eyes closed, you will never want to put it down. ... Read more

13. New Selected Poems
by Ted Hughes
 Paperback: 242 Pages (1982-03)
list price: US$17.00 -- used & new: US$6.76
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Asin: 0060909250
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars dark, beautiful, brilliant
I'm a poetry scanner. I pick up poetry books and randomly read the odd line here and there to ascertain whether or not I like the general style of the poet. If I do, I'll usually buy the book. I discovered the genius of Ted Hughes (who I expected to dislike because I'd never liked Sylvia Plath) at a market stall. His work absolutely blew me away. My other favourite poets are ee cummings, TS Eliot and John Milton - I'm not sure if that's relevant, but it might put my tastes a little more into context. Hughes has a remarkable gift for language and dark descriptive insight, disturbing and gorgeous turns of phrase and perfect timing. I keep a self-collated quote book, and excerpts from his poetry are now the most commonly occurring entries. It's always very difficult to describe what makes certain poetry great, so I'll just give some examples of lines I think are magnificent...
"The bright mirror I braved: the devil in it
Loved me like my soul, my soul.
Now that I seek myself in a serpent
My smile is fatal."
(I like it dark, sublime and metaphoric, whether it be poetry, music, art or whatever)
My favourite modern poet, and he died just one year after I discovered he existed. My timing is abysmal. But his poetry is quite the opposite. Immerse... ... Read more

14. Collected Poems of Ted Hughes
by Ted Hughes
Paperback: 137 Pages (2005-07-21)
list price: US$35.10 -- used & new: US$20.44
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0571227902
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Product Description
The Collected Poems spans fifty years of work, from Hawk in the Rain to the bestselling Birthday Letters. It also includes the complete texts of such seminal publications as Crow and Tales from Ovid as well as those children's poems that Hughes felt crossed over into adult poetry. Most significantly it also includes small press publications and editions that, until now, remain uncollected and have never before been available to a general readership. ... Read more

15. The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes
by Janet Malcolm
Paperback: 224 Pages (1995-03-28)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$6.65
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Asin: 0679751408
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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From the moment it was first published in The New Yorker, this brilliant work of literary criticism aroused great attention. Janet Malcolm brings her shrewd intelligence to bear on the legend of Sylvia Plath and the wildly productive industry of Plath biographies. Features a new Afterword by Malcolm.Amazon.com Review
Sylvia Plath committed suicide in February 1963, and since then her poetry, fiction, and, increasingly, her life have maintained enormous power over readers' (particularly female readers') imaginations. Biographies continue to appear with regularity, despite the strong hold the Plath estate has on her work. But because of that hold, each biographer has been forced to accommodate the living (Ted Hughes, who was separated from Plath at the time of her death, and his larger-than-life sister, Olwyn, long the executrix), often at the expense of the dead. In 1989, Anne Stevenson's peculiar hybrid, Bitter Fame,was published, complete with an appendix full of devastating memoirs. It was not your average biography. When Janet Malcolm was first sent the book, she was less drawn to it by the Plath legend than by the fact that she had known Stevenson in the '50s, but she soon became captivated by the book's defeatist subtext. The dead woman's voice and writings seemed to overwhelm Stevenson's tentative narrative; and if that wasn't enough, there was also the none-too-angelic choir of those who had known Plath. "These too, said, 'Don't listen to Anne Stevenson. She didn't know Sylvia. I knew Sylvia. Let me tell you about her. Read my correspondence with her. Read my memoir.'"

Bitter Fame was soon garnering some powerfully bad notices, especially that of A. Alvarez in the New York Review of Books. Alvarez, the author of one of the most influential pieces on Plath, in his study of suicide, The Savage God, had some special, personal cards to deal, as have so many others Plath left behind. Because Malcolm's great theme is treachery--that of the interviewer, the journalist, the teller of just about any tale--the Plath mess seemed a perfect fit, and she decided to become a player, too. In 1991, Malcolm was having lunch with Olwyn Hughes in North London, 28 years to the day on which the poet died.

This is only one of the coincidences in The Silent Woman, a postmodern biography par excellence, which is less about the drama of Plath's life and still controversial death than about their continuing effect on the living. For Malcolm, all cards are wild, each one revealing more complexity, human cravenness, and, above all, brilliantly playful aperçus about human agency and writing's deceptions. I look forward to the dictionary of quotations that foregrounds the elegant "The pleasure of hearing ill of the dead is not a negligible one, but it pales before the pleasure of hearing ill of the living." And then there's, "Memory is notoriously unreliable; when it is intertwined with ill will, it may be monstrously unreliable. The 'good' biographer is supposed to be able to discriminate among the testimonies of witnesses and have his antennae out for tendentious distortions, misrememberings, and outright lies." It's clear that Malcolm doesn't see herself as a "good" biographer--she openly declares her allegiance, but is more than capable of changing it and of showing her cards. Or is she? In the end, The Silent Woman is a stunning inquiry into the possibility of ever really knowing anything save that "the game continues." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (25)

5-0 out of 5 stars Remarkable Book
This is a remarkable book, a blend of numerous genres: biography, memoir, journalism, criticism, psychological analysis, deconstruction of other biographers and memoirists and their work, discussion of postmodernism, and more. Malcolm has an extraordinary intelligence and imagination--both expressed in her metaphors, many of them extended beyond belief. I particularly liked her metaphors for and about Olwyn Hughes, Ted Hughes's sister: "Cerberus to the Plath estate," Anne Stevenson's unsuccessful commanding of "Olwyn back into the lamp," Anne's obliviously walking into "Olwyn's web." (Anne wrote what Malcolm says is a good biography of Plath that Olwyn insisted on editing and correcting as the price of permission to quote.) Malcolm has brilliant things to say about memory and memoirs, criticism, biography, the impossibility of fair-mindedness and truth, writing in general, the language of face and body that can't be captured on recordings, and footnotes. What I don't understand, although Malcolm addresses the question, is why any of the people she interviewed and wrote about gave her permission to quote them. Even the people whose sides she takes emerge scarred and bleeding from her descriptions. Surely her reputation for this proclivity preceded her with at least some of the characters in the book. On the other hand, the noted critic Harold Bloom has remarked on her "wonderful exuberance" and has stated that her books "transcend what they appear to be: superb reportage."

Of biography Malcolm says that it "is the medium through which the remaining secrets of the famous dead are taken from them and dumped out into full view of the world. The biographer at work, indeed, is like the professional burglar, breaking into a house . . . . The voyeurism and busybodyism that impel writers and readers of biography alike are obscured by an apparatus of scholarship designed to give the enterprise an appearance of banklike blandness and solidity." And, "there is no length he [the biographer] will not go to, and the more his book reflects his industry the more the reader believes that he is having an elevating literary experience, rather than simply listening to backstairs gossip and reading other people's mail." Similarly, "The reader's amazing tolerance (which he would extend to no novel written half as badly as most biographies) makes sense only when seen as a kind of collusion between him and the biographer in an excitingly forbidden undertaking: tiptoeing down the corridor together to stand in front of the bedroom door and try to peep through the keyhole."

She uses one of her extended metaphors to discuss the issues of writer's block and the elusiveness of truth, which I had not realized were related: "At the end of Borges's story 'The Aleph,' the narrator goes to the cellar of a house, where he has the experience of encountering everything in the world. He at once sees all places from all angles . . . . Writer's block derives from the mad ambition to enter the cellar; the fluent writer is content to stay in the close attic of partial expression, to say what is 'running through his mind,' and to accept that it may not--cannot--be wholly true." Later, Malcolm says, "Truth is, in its nature, multiple and contradictory, part of the flux of history, untrappable in language." She contrasts nonfiction and fiction in an interesting way: "In a work of nonfiction we almost never know the truth of what happened. The ideal of unmediated reporting is regularly achieved only in fiction, where the writer faithfully reports what is going on in his imagination." (Of course that leaves unanswered the real question of whether that imagination captures the truth.) Finally, Malcolm relates a visit she made to the incredibly littered, filthy house of an artist and author who had written recollections about Plath. She saw the place as "a kind of monstrous allegory of truth" in its "unmediated actuality, in all its multiplicity, randomness, inconsistency, redundancy, authenticity."

In relation to the cluttered house, she writes further, "the narratives called biographies pale and shrink in the face of the disorderly actuality that is life. . . . Each person who sits down to write faces not a blank page but his own vastly overfilled mind. The problem is to clear out most of what is in it, . . . to make a space where a few ideas and images and feelings may be so arranged that a reader will want to linger awhile among them, rather than to flee. . . . But this task of housecleaning (of narrating) is not merely arduous; it is dangerous. There is the danger of throwing the wrong things out and keeping the wrong things in."

Malcolm is also insightful on post-structuralism, a viewpoint that she at least partly shares, calling it "a theory of criticism whose highest values are uncertainty, anxiety, and ambiguity." Writing about a poststructuralist writer and professor of English literature who wrote _The Haunting of Sylvia Plath_, Malcolm says that "In accordance with post-structuralist theory," Jacqueline "Rose argues for suspension of all certainty about what happened, and thus of judgment and blame." Finally, she refers to "the post-structuralist vision of writing as a kind of dream, which no one (including the dreamer-writer) ever gets to the bottom of."

Of her conversation with Rose, Malcolm says, "I render it with the help of a tape recording, which preserved the words that passed between Rose and me but did not catch any of the language of face and body by which we all speak to one another and sometimes say what we dare not put into words." This from a woman who had won a lawsuit brought against one of her books about Freudianism by a psychoanalyst; she won by playing a tape recording of her interview with him.

Recommended even for people who are not specifically interested in Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes because of the book's insights into the nature of truth, memoirs,fiction, and biography.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Biography of Biography
THE SILENT WOMAN: SYLVIA PLATH AND TED HUGHES by Janet Malcolm is a biography through the lens of what's wrong with biography. It's fascinating to Plath fans and afficionados (me) and those who want to examine language, text and form and the barriers between whatever truth is and the outcomes of communication (me again).

Malcolm is explicit in her premise: A biography had been written of Plath by Malcolm's University of Michigan cohort, Anne Stevenson (Bitter Fame), that had been controversial. Plath loyalists fulminated against Stevenson's pro-Hughes bias, and the Hughes family denounced it because they said that Stevenson had not cooperated enough. Malcolm, who looked up to the slightly older Stevenson at U of M, who is also a poet of some standing, follows the process of the Plath biography, as well as other works on the famous poet and the machinations/efforts of her former husband and Plath's literary estate executor, Hughes's sister, Olwyn. Malcolm interviews many of the participants, including Olwyn, but not Ted Hughes, and works not to find a "right" or "wrong" but to understand the issues with biography that can create the problems of trying to portray another's life. In the process, she exhibits more on the life of Hughes and Plath that fascinates those who are interested in such things. She couldn't have chosen a better example/subject to use for this dissection, because their lives are compelling, and the drama around how those lives have been portrayed by others -- including the impression management on the Hughes side, which was no small matter -- seem never ending.

Malcolm writes, "In a work of nonfiction, we almost never know the truth of what happened" (p 154). Malcolm faces this issue squarely and doesn't try to make a definitive statement about what did or didn't happen between Hughes and Plath, Plath and others, the Hughes estate and her various biographers. Instead she narrates her investigation, her ownbiases, and the flaws and quandaries that exist at every point along the way. Stevenson's troubles, the reader comes to see, may just be a strong form of the problems and doubts all biographers could -- and should? -- experience.

In the end, one gets the sense that the Hughes family worked perhaps too hard to control the impression of Ted after the suicide of his up-and-coming poet wife in the early 1960s (though who could blame him after he was villified and blamed for her suicide by those who took public "sides" in their marital discord, and he stated that he was also quite worried about his children's perceptions of their mother, family and selves if there was a free-for-all regarding Plath's literary and personal legacy). Ted and Olwyn were negative even toward literary scholars who interpreted Plath's poetry in ways objectionable to them and made working with the estate for very necessary quoting rights quite difficult. As Malcolm depicts Stevenson after her book's publication and the ensuing hue and cry, her break with the Hughes family and Plath estate and her reaction to same as wilted and beaten down. The book seems as if it were a tragedy in her professional life from which she must recover because of the interpersonal drama between the author and Olwyn Hughes.

Interestingly, the book also has a strong subtheme that examines the pressures, pains and stress of accomplishment by literary women born in the 40s who came of age in the 60s. (There's a brief discussion of Stevenson's marriages, and the impact her literary ambitions had on her family life.) Stevenson and Malcolm are around the same age as Plath, and this personal investment in the times and age is also fascinating from a political-gender point of view.

If I had any complaint about the work, which was an expansion of a lengthy New Yorker article that was printed in the 90s, it is that it ends too suddenly. After all the activity and investigation, I wanted Malcolm to make sense of it all for me, but the book just seems to cut off after Malcolm meets a man integral to the Plath suicide narrative, her downstairs neighbor, who may have been the last to see her alive.

Malcolm is a conversational and somewhat "confessional" feeling writer who is not afraid to be explict about her personal investment and lens that engages the reader and makes her feel an insider in this investigation of femininity, biography, rhetoric and one of the lightning rods of gender relations in the 20th century. I recommend it on any one of these levels.

5-0 out of 5 stars Exciting bio research
Janet Malcolm is really unique. Her book is never a conventional biography of Plath, but a study of the things that were not written by Hugues, an exam of every other book on Sylvia Plath and a brilliant anaylisis of the literary biographic genre and literary biographies readers. Besides, her style is so concise and it has an inner rythm and you feel as if you were reading a thriller. And there is something really Davoine or Lacanian in her approach, because she shows the inner sides, the difficulties, the doubts and the reverse of everything she touches. You can see Ted Hugues hidding himself and divided between the two masters he has to serve. And in the same time, Sylvia Plath is there, in every page, the Silent Woman. Terrific.

4-0 out of 5 stars Silence Can be Deadly
After reading everything about everything on Plath, it was refreshing to finally come across something unique and different such as,"The Silent Woman."In fact, one needs to read this book before they read anything else about Plath--- so they are informed and do not waste their time on the many false, unauthorized trash out there. One could say that "The Silent Woman" is a kind of rich almanac into Plath's secret, exquisite, dark world--and the people who loved and despised her. It is not a biography--but more of a journey to find truth.

I loved getting to know more about Olwlyn Hughes (typically English), and of course Ted Hughes.And "The Silent Woman" helps the reader to understand why they are as protective as they are about Plath. (I would not have taken a liking to Olwlyn and can understand why Plath disliked her.)

"The main problem with S.P. biographers is they they fail...They can caricature and remake S.P. in the image of their foolish fantasies, and get away with it--they assume, in their brainless way, that it's perfectly O.K. to give me the same treatment--apparently forgetting that I'm still here" --TED HUGHES

Come on people--have some common sense, some decency.How would you feel if your family displayed all their dirty laudryoutside for all the world to see? And Plath has lots of dirty laudry--but don't we all? Suicide-adultry-mental illness-the list could go on forever.

I like Janet Malcom--her writing style, her references to Mr.Frued, and her surprising insights.I like the way she created something new from all of the hundreds of the same.After all, Plath was much too complex to be a carbon copy of something else.

Attention all Plath lovers---Read this book before you pick up anything else about Plath. The only exception would be "The Unbridged Journals of Sylvia Plath"-(superbly stunning) and directly from the horse's mouth. Now, this gem could be read before reading "The Silent Woman" beforehand!

5-0 out of 5 stars Despite Itself
Despite itself, an excellent book on Sylvia Plath. Who knows the truth about the enigmatic, "silent woman" of the book's title? No one, perhaps, not even that woman herself, who was mixed up about the kind of poetry she wanted to write and about her destiny, even her citizenship was fluid. Although Janet Malcolm wrote this book to prick holes in biographies of Plath that seek to canonize her, she really sinks her teeth into Anne Stevenson's repellent and semi-authorized biography "Bitter Fame," which on its publication was widely seen as the Hughes' camo corrective to Plath hagiography. Malcolm finds out exactly what information Olwyn Hughes was willing to share with Anne Stevenson, and which slant was verboten, and the whole shameful affair, while not the superb intellectual condemnation of biography that Malcolm thinks it is, is stimulating on nearly every page. And in the process Malcolm tracks down and interviews some important people in the Hughes/Plath saga, and even makes room for Plath's most important critic, the UK theorist Jacqueline Rose. All in all, it's a mixed bag, and Malcolm is pretty repellent, but oddly enough it's exciting from start to finish. ... Read more

16. Ted Hughes (Faber 80th Anniversary Edition)
by Ted Hughes
Hardcover: 160 Pages (2009-05-07)
list price: US$12.66 -- used & new: US$6.82
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Asin: 0571246982
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Right from the beginning, Ted Hughes (1930-98) wrote in a way that set him apart from his contemporaries, as Simon Armitage puts it in his introduction. By the time he published his final collection, "Birthday Letters" in 1998, he had become a colossus on the literary landscape. Other volumes in this series include: "Auden", "Betjemen", "Eliot", "Plath", and "Yeats". ... Read more

17. Savage Gods, Silver Ghosts: In The Wild with Ted Hughes
by Ehor Boyanowsky
Hardcover: 208 Pages (2009)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$13.75
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Asin: 1553653238
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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They met at a poetry reading, but Ehor Boyanowsky and British Poet Laureate Ted Hughes became friends through their shared — and unquenchable — passion for fishing. Against the backdrop of the Dean River, one of the greatest steelhead rivers in the world, the two men explored their mutual regard for the planet's wild places. Boyanowsky draws on personal correspondence, interviews, and journal entries to recreate their encounters in the 1980s and '90s, when Hughes was at the height of his power and influence, and to paint an intimate portrait of a lifelong outdoorsman, conservationist, and artist. The book also goes behind the creative process as fishing logs transmute into poetry, talk becomes action, and the queen's bard composes impromptu bawdy verse on the drive to a stag party. Boyanowsky realizes he's been privileged to see a Hughes who is different from the public persona. In these tales of male friendship and the primal act of fly fishing, the reader gets glimpses of the "nature red in tooth and claw" that drew Ted Hughes to Canada — and rekindled his love of the natural world.
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Customer Reviews (18)

3-0 out of 5 stars An interesting chronicle of a great poet
"Savage Gods" is on the one hand a bit suspect--there isn't one picture in the entire book of Ted Hughes and the author together--and on the other a believable portrait of the author's personality.His love for nature (despite it's lack of purpose, according to Hughes) and poetic reveries are enjoyable, even if one is not sure this is Ted Hughes speaking.Recommended for poets.

2-0 out of 5 stars Another Side of Ted Hughes

Compared to other kinds of nonfiction, I rarely read memoirs. Maybe I just don't know the right ones to read or just have too many other things to read. However, when I heard of Ehor Boyanowsky's Savage Gods, Silver Ghosts: In the Wild With Ted Hughes, I decided to pick up a copy. I expected this book to reveal a unique side to Hughes, especially lost to American readers, but sadly feel like I only received a small bite.

At least in the United States, Hughes is unfortunately best (and often only) known as Silvia Plath's husband who allegedly drove her to suicide and mangled her poetry collections. Especially in his home country of the UK there is much more to him than that, he was an important late 20th century poet, obtaining the post of poet Laureate late in life. At least a few of my writing friends have recommended Hughes to me, especially his Birthday Letters collection, poems he wrote every year since Plath's untimely death. It wasn't though until I took a 20th century British Literature course, that I had the chance to read a selection of poems that often involve nature, especially wild animals verses domesticated (or not) mankind.

Boyanowsky traces his chance introduction to Hughes and their friendship that blossomed over time as he learns Hughes is a fellow outdoors enthusiast and subsequent fishing trips the two take to British Columbia's Dean River.
This would have made an excellent long essay, but it seems like there is too much repetition to make a book for anyone but serious Ted Hughes fans and scholars, with a few fly fishing fans thrown in for good measure. Aside from a few brief mentions of Hughes poetry and personality, Save Gods, Silver Ghosts reads like slightly developed diary entries of We did this, then we did this. I get little sense of Boyanowsky, yet alone Hughes, besides that they loved the outdoors and fishing, which made for wooden characters and reading.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not quite what I expected
When reading the blurb about this book, I expected a union of Ted Hughes and fishing and the hope of some sort of new insight into the poet.Instead, I read a description of a friendship, some nicely written observations of the British Columbia landscape, and an author going on and on about himself.While I appreciate the friendship that Boyanowsky had with Ted Hughes, I just didn't feel like there was enough for an entire book.This book, to me, was one part Hemingway rip-off and the other part Hughes mythology.Even the back jacket hints at these sentiments.The photos are great, and there are some beautiful passages in the book, but all in all, I wasn't impressed.

5-0 out of 5 stars It's time.
Hughes is oftened blamed for the suicide of Sylvia Plath. Anyone who has some clinical knowledge of depression and the history of its treatment realized he did what he could, although he could have been a better husband, like most men.Her death sould have been blamed on a physician who did not hospitalize her during her adjustment to Amitriptyline.

It is great to read a book which about Hughes, and his friend, and not about Hughes and Plath. The knowlege one gets of Hughes can be used to understand his poetry, and maybe even his relationship with Plath.

4-0 out of 5 stars Of fishing and friendship
This book has quiet, modest goals; to write about fly fishing in the Canadian wilderness, and the poetic fruits of friendship. Gentle, respectful and forgiving, this book offers a man's view of another man, with the decorous screens left drawn across the more emotional aspects of Hughes' life. Yes, Boyanowsky traces how the settings emerged in Hughes' poetry (and in Boyanowsky's own), but that is less the point than thedescriptions of actual trips, catches, bait choices, guides, drinks, and catches. This is a memoir of fishing and friendship, and quite beautifully done. ... Read more

18. Phèdre: A Play
by Jean Racine
Paperback: 96 Pages (2000-02-28)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$3.99
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Asin: 0374526168
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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A lean, high-tension version of a classic tragedy.

The myth of Phaedra is one of the most powerful in all of classical mythology. As dramatized by the French playwright Jean Racine (1639-99), the dying Queen's obsessive love for her stepson, Hippolytus, and the scrupulously upright Hippolytus' love for the forbidden beauty Aricia has come to be known as one of the great stories of tragic infatuation, a tale of love strong enough to bring down a kingdom.

In this "tough, unrhyming avalanche of a translation" (Paul Taylor, The Independent), Hughes replaces Racine's alexandrines with an English verse that serves eloquently to convey the passions of his protagonists. The translation was performed to acclaim in London in 1998, and the London production, starring Diana Rigg, was staged in 1999 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

"We are still catching up with Ted Hughes's gift for narrative verse after his Tales from Ovid," one English critic observed after the London premiere. "Little needs to happen on stage when there's a swirling action-packed disaster movie-riddled with sex and violence-in Hughes's free verse."
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Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Bad Romance
"Phedre: A Play" is a taut, terrific translation of Jean Racine's neo-classical tragedy based on Euripides' Euripides' Hippolytus (Focus Classical Library) In the Greek original, uptight, prudish Hippolytus' repression is personally punished by Aphrodite herself. Racine, however, changed it with his Christian/Jansenist sensibilities. The main focus is the guilt-ridden Phaedra, who longs for her stepson Hippolytus. Hippolytus, in turn, longs for the captive Aricia, who is forbidden from marrying. It's a complicated love triangle mixed with political intrigue and sexual repression. It's a god-haunted world where Theseus can call on Neptune to destroy his son, and Phaedra feels that she cannot escape her father, Minos, the judge in the underworld.

Poet laureate Ted Hughes, who himself experienced tremendous personal tragedy Sylvia, brings this French tragedy to poetic life. He brings the passion and power to life. It doesn't fit the French original verse-by-verse, but he still does it justice. Despite the formalities and conventions of French neo-classical tragedy, he gives it Greek fire.

"Phedre" is a true classic.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
Hughes' modern translation is a masterwork. The highly structured form of the original is replaced with a stark minimalism, but the effect is the same: the reader cannot help but appreciate that despite the madness of their actions, the actors are entirely rational - indeed, merely human. The final act is particularly moving. At less than 100 pages, it can be, and should be, read several times.

5-0 out of 5 stars Hughes translation of Phedre a triumph
Racine, and neo-classic French tragedy in general, have a pretty limited following, particularly in translation, and this is an enormous pity.Readers have difficulty accepting the strict forms of the genre and, sadly, miss the exquisite dramatic poetry that, in my judgement, stands at the same level of achievement as the best of the ancients, Shakespeare, and other masters of tragic art. As George Steiner has argued, this becomes recognizable when one accepts Racine's forms on their own terms, since "The the total action of a neo-classic play occurs inside the language".

Hughes' wonderful translation of Phedre does justice to Racine's language, and should go some distance to exposing the glories of this work to new generations of English readers and audiences.The style is spare, urgent, evocative, and also conveys the necessary restraint that was characteristic of Racine, and made his treatment of tragic events all the more powerful.Of course, we no longer have Hughes to do comparable justice to Andromaque, Berenice, Iphigenie and Racine's other masterworks.But other strong English translations are out there.Hopefully, exposure to Hughes' rendering of Phedre, important in itself, will increase readership and performance (and further translations) of the others.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Intensly Taut Passion Play
It is not possible to read Ted Hughes' Phedre casually. I am currently rehearsing to perform the play and I find that if I ever try to just read it sitting down, I get cramps in my neck. The play is that intense. Like a flexed muscle, every moment of Phedre is taut with raw power. The play is extremely challenging to perform, but I think that any actor or audience member will find the catharsis enormous. Even those most wary of the "classics" will be sent reeling from Phedre. ... Read more

19. Collected Poems
by Ted Hughes
Paperback: 1376 Pages (2005-06)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$17.63
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Asin: 0374529655
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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All the poems of a great 20th-century poet.

From the astonishing debut Hawk in the Rain (1957) to Birthday Letters (1998), Ted Hughes was one of postwar literature's truly prodigious poets. This remarkable volume gathers all of his work, from his earliest poems (published only in journals) through the ground-breaking volumes Crow (1970), Gaudete(1977), and Tales from Ovid (1997). It includes poems Hughes composed for fine-press printers, poems he wrote as England's Poet Laureate, and those children's poems that he meant for adults as well. This omnium-gatherum of Hughes's work is animated throughout by a voice that, as Seamus Heaney remarked, was simply "longer and deeper and rougher" than those of his contemporaries.
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Customer Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars liking the poems, not liking the man
First issue. In New Critical theory, I should be able to read the poems on their own. But who is doctrinaire enough to be able to ignore a life like this one? Perhaps someone who can look at Van Goghs without thinking of the artist's life could forget the sympathetic wife putting her head in the oven, and then the lover putting not only her head in the oven, but also killing the man's daughter? The son just killed himself too. I'm not enough of an aesthete, I guess. I care. It also rankles to read that "after his wife's death Hughes was demonized" when the opposite is true. Honors were heaped on him, he ended up Poet Laureate, and women, for reasons us Nice Guys just can't fathom, have adored him as a ladykiller. Diane Middlebrook's book explores the issue (her own marriage to an Alpha Male was famous in SF. She knew the territory.) Larkin and Auden are better poets and you don't have to forget things to enjoy them.

Second issue. When you *can* put the bio out of your mind, reading a poem like Tractor, what relief you feel to be out of the shrunken world of modern MFA poetry!"Poetry makes nothing happen" has become, "in poetry, nothing happens." How can it, whenthe modern poet does little in her life but teach, cook, eat and take a nice vacation? (I just read a poem, and not a short one, about two high school teachers in a huff with each other over how to chop onions correctly.)I'm not sold on Hawk, it's too selfconsciously macho. He's playing the role his good looks assigned him.But Hughes wrote so much, there's plenty to choose from, and the poems like Tractor get us out of the school and nursery and back into the world. Modern poetry ignores so much of life, that life ignores modern poetry. Hughes should have written a poem called Rat, not Hawk, but he brings life back into poetry. Four stars then.

5-0 out of 5 stars Strange and powerful
Ted Hughes' poetry, which I first read thirty years ago, has always haunted me.

He was that rare thing, a modern poet that mattered.

This gigantic volume is almost too much of a good thing.....

4-0 out of 5 stars A Collection to Collect
An astonishing top-to-bottom, stem-to-stern compendium of this singular (and singularly productive) poet. It challenges the reader to come to terms with the very wide aesthetic and emotional arc of Hughes' oeuvre. It is also a physical challenge to cart about and read with enjoyment. The prima facie scholarship of this edition, it is a clinic in poetics to keep you company for any future overseas flights endorsed by no less a modern poet than 'Famous' Seamus Heaney. There is no living American poet with as wide a palate or as uncompromising in its anti-suburban sensibility. Quite a handy tool for dealing with irredentist slatherers of Plath, too - you could seriously knock them cold with a drop of this tome.

5-0 out of 5 stars A huge, landmark collection from a major poet
This enormous (1300+ pages) collection of Ted Hughes's poetry should cement his reputation as one of the two truly major British poets of the second half of the twentieth century. (The other being the much less prolific Philip Larkin.) This single volume collects ALL of Hughes's published poetry, including the late "Tales From Ovid" and "Birthday Letters," his bestselling book of poems about/for Sylvia Plath, as well as the works written in his official capacity as poet-laureate. Also included are many uncollected poems and works from books no longer easily available. Although the sheer size of this book is somewhat intimidating, this is the Hughes collection to buy if you want to immerse yourself in one of the last century's most versatile and surprising poets, an artist whose work ranges from savage evocations of Darwinian nature to earthy agrarian meditations to violent surrealism to seering, intimate confessions. This may be the most important volume of British poetry published this decade. ... Read more

20. Ted Hughes: New Selected Poems (Literature Insights)
by Neil Roberts
Kindle Edition: Pages (2010-05-18)
list price: US$8.00
Asin: B003N3UZAQ
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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A brilliant new study of perhaps the finest English poet of the 20th Century, by a distinguished critic and scholar.
This book (also available in paperback from Troubador) open with a section on Hughes’s life, including an authoritative treatment of the relationship with Sylvia Plath and the effect of her suicide on his poetry and reputation, followed by a review of Hughes’s artistic strategies, his poetic language, and influences on his work, including his openness to mythology and the poets of Eastern Europe. The body of the book offers an approach to reading New Selected Poems (1995), taking in turn each of the remarkable and remarkably varied works from which the poems were selected—The Hawk in the Rain, Lupercal, Wodwo, Crow, Cave Birds, Season Songs, Gaudete, Remains of Elmet, Moortown Diary, River and Wolfwatching. It concludes with a review of Hughes’s reception, and a six-page bibliography.
Neil Roberts studied English at the University of Cambridge where he took an MA and PhD. Since 1970 he has taught at the University of Sheffield, where he is Professor of English Literature. He is the author of George Eliot: Her Beliefs and Her Art (Elek, 1975), Ted Hughes: A Critical Study (with Terry Gifford, Faber, 1981), The Lover, the Dreamer and the World: the Poetry of Peter Redgrove (Sheffield Academ¬ic Press, 1994), Meredith and the Novel (Macmillan, 1997), Narrative and Voice in Postwar Poetry (Longman, 1999), D. H. Lawrence , Travel and Cultural Difference (Palgrave, 2004), Ted Hughes: A Literary Life (Palgrave, 2006), and D. H. Lawrence: ‘Women in Love’ (Literature Insights, 2007). He is the editor of A Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry (Blackwell, 2001) and of The Colour of Radio: Essays and Interviews by Peter Redgrove (Stride, 2006). He is currently writing a biography of Peter Redgrove.
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