Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Carried Away

Read the biography, Ted Hughes: The Life of a Poet, by Elaine Feinstein I picked up last Friday without really intending to. Just got carried away, as I tend to do with Hughes related material. Actually I didn't really intend to buy the book, being more interested in Jonathan Bates's Unauthorised Life - or whatever it's called. They only had a single copy of the Bates, however, and it was a touch dog-eared so I went for the Feinstein instead. Also I'm still a bit wary of the newer work after reading the coruscating review by Janet Malcolm.
As it was, I was a little disappointed by Feinstein's book, readable and balanced though it was. The Ted and Sylvia story was its dominant aspect and I was hoping for more on Hughes in the later years. Also for something that might give equal weight to the dreadful Assia and Shura story. ('Story' seems a terribly inappropriate word to use here, but in all honesty that's what biographies do: they turn their subjects into narratives.) But there was enough to shed at least a little light on some of the later work to make me feel that I wasn't just reading out of some idle, intrusive curiosity.
I came away keen to embark on a major, all-encompassing reading of Hughes in all his aspects - and Plath also, though in her case focused on the wonderful poetry - so, I suppose, that's some justification for my continued interest in the details of Hughes's life.

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