The Letters of Guy Davenport and Hugh Kenner

Jeff Bursey at The Quarterly Conversation:

Questioning Minds deserves an audience because it allows readers the privilege of immersion in examinations of Modernist writing, in witnessing earnest and, at times, witty or humorous exchanges, and in seeing how academic (Kenner) and creative (Davenport) projects arise from chance remarks, are worked out (or abandoned), and, now and then, collaborated on, as with Kenner’s book on Flaubert, Joyce and Beckett, The Stoic Comedians(1962), that features Davenport’s illustrations. Both writers urge or hector the other to read, or write, this or that article or book. Kenner encourages Davenport to do extensive translations of the poetry of a particular Greek lyric poet, and this later became Carmina Archilochi: The Fragments of Archilochos (1964). Both interceded to help the other give paid talks or find university positions.

The bulk of the letters were written in the 1960s and early 1970s. Kenner lived in California, Davenport in Pennsylvania (eventually both moved to other states), and they wrote each other several times a week, sometimes twice on the same day. An important joint meeting place, of a sort, proved to be William F. Buckley Jr.’s conservative-libertarian publication National Review, a home for Kenner’s writing since 1957.

more here.