(3/27/02 10:36:14 am)
| Edna St. Vincent Millay -- slightly off-topic|
I've been catching up on the board, and in the Bluebeard thread there's some discussion of one of Millay's poems. Lately I've become entranced with her stuff, especially after reading an excerpt from the biography _Savage Beauty_ that was published several months back in _Vanity Fair_. I started reading the biography, but had to give it back to the library -- the waiting list for it is incredible! Now, I know there's another bio recently published called What Lips My Lips Have Kissed: The Loves and Love Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay, by Daniel Mark Epstein. Has anyone read one or both of these books? I'd love to hear your opinions, as I've read that there's some controversy between which is more "definitive."
I'm also intrigued by her Bluebeard poem that was discussed. Are many of her works folk-inspired?
(3/27/02 12:56:42 pm)
I have read them both.
Lips has more about the poetry and a couple of new tidbits about her love life. The Milford seems more thorough, but tends to also inject the biographer into the mix.
However, I must say I enjoyed them both, and continue to adore ESVM sonnets while I shake my head at the amount of candle burning she did. It's a wonder she lived as long as she did--which wasn't very long at all. The Byronic myth has much to be ashamed of.
(3/28/02 3:34:32 pm)
I reviewed the Milford for the Oregonian, and really liked it, as a book . . . it is the sort of biography written novelistically, and contains little in the way of critical perspective on her poetry--perhaps too little, though that is just not the sort of writer Milford is, of course. SAVAGE BEAUTY is best on her childhood I think, weaker on her adulthood (though admittedly Millay too was weaker then in many ways). Milford is a v. good writer; her biography of Zelda Fitzgerald is just incredible and I could not recommend it more.
I ought to read the Epstein for another view on Millay . . . I imagine it has a bit more lit crit in it?
Millay DID write other fairy tale poems. I should dig out my books and post the titles. In SAVAGE BEAUTY, others are excerpted that have fairy tale references. Hard not to be in awe: as you all know, she was the first female to win the Pulitzer Prize, and her readings were attended by thousands sometimes. (Billy Collins has been compared to her in terms of his crowd appeal . . . though of course he has a different style--no long red curls, cigarette, flirtatious manner!)