In Robert Lowell’s ‘Memoirs,’ Mental Illness, Creative Friends and a Takedown of Dad

Jene J. Long

He remembers the homes with high ceilings, Dresden china chandeliers and suits of armor in the corners the guys in creaking shirts the Sunday roasts the Harvard-Yale football games the bustling of supernumeraries. American literature has been there, and done that, however Lowell freshens the eye.

Lowell revered his mother’s father, a handsome, raffish, self-designed and “moose-shouldered” male, a 50 percent-mothballed warship, mainly because “he was all I could at any time want to be: the poor boy, the dilemma child, the commodore of his family.”

His have father, on the other hand, was a perpetual letdown. “Memoirs” includes just one of the most systematic takedowns of a father in American literature. Lowell’s father was a mumbler he appeared poor in clothes he was balding he couldn’t appropriately carve a roast he resembled, when he received body weight, “a juicy land beaver.”

He lacked that WASP knowingness his son cringed at the publications he read through, with titles like “How to Engage in Tennis” and “How to Sail.” The family’s anarchic instincts were dormant in him.

Lowell offers an aunt who mentioned of him: “Bob has not a necessarily mean bone, an primary bone, a amusing bone in his system!” She wished to lobotomize him and “stuff his brain with purple peppers.” Lowell writes: “In his 40s, Father’s soul went underground.” He adds, in a specially brutal sentence: “He was write-up-Edwardian, publish-Teddy Roosevelt, put up-horsemanship, submit-panache, put up-individuality and put up-Earth War I.”

Individuals engaged to be wed choose note: Lowell is confident his parents’ preference of honeymoon place, the Grand Canyon, doomed the marriage from the commence. “The decision was so heroic and unoriginal that it left them eternally right after with a experience of gaping vacuity,” he writes. He provides:

I have by no means assumed our lives established by the stars and still at idle moments I could consider myself stamped with the mark of the Grand Canyon, as if it were being a sticker on an car.

This book’s editors, Steven Gould Axelrod and Grzegorz Kosc, silently and deftly amend, in their footnotes, Lowell’s several smaller mistakes of truth, and issue out wherever he appears to be to have invented characters. There is a full other ebook heading on down there in the footnotes.

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