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The Art of Literary Biography$
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John Batchelor

Print publication date: 1995

Print ISBN-13: 9780198182894

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198182894.001.0001

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Elizabeth Bishop: The Secret Life of a Poet

Elizabeth Bishop: The Secret Life of a Poet

(p.172) (p.173) 11 Elizabeth Bishop: The Secret Life of a Poet
The Art of Literary Biography


Oxford University Press

Elizabeth Bishop displayed little enthusiasm for attempts to connect the writer's work to his or her life. She could well have feared and resented the possibility that sexual revelations (lesbianism) would overwhelm the singular and manifold achievement of her own creative work, or that the appearance of actively choosing within her own life — her capacity for growth and redirection — would be lost beneath the single determinant of sexual choice. She was an ardent and careful autobiographer in both her poetry and her prose. In addition, she is a writer who has frequently been praised for her powers of observation — for her ‘eye’ — but what is apparent is that her images are frequently layered, calling attention to an anterior relation to sound.

Keywords:   Elizabeth Bishop, life, poet, lesbianism, autobiographer

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