Thursday, May 06, 2010

"So many potty ladies, so many biographies!"

I wrote quite a bit about So I Have Thought of You: The Letters of Penelope Fitzgerald when it was published in England in 2008, so I was pleased to discover today that it finally reached America officially last month, being published in paperback by Fourth Estate.

I wrote about the book for the Constant Conversation tonight, but no volume of letters worth its salt is ever exhausted, so I've got a couple of additional bits to share here.

First, this paragraph from a letter Fitzgerald sent to Colin Haycraft, her editor at Duckworth, on April 11, 1978, when she was in the midst of her ultimately unsuccessful attempt to write a biography of L. P. Hartley:
I did succeed in getting invited to LPH's childhood home, unchanged since 1900, with the old brass electric light fittings and baths &c., and by talking to his sister I got the psychological key to his novels, every novelist has one, I suppose, the situation his mind goes back to when he's alone--and I also discovered that his manservant was trying to poison him with veronal and that was why his bank manager locked him up and forced him to make a will, not in the manservant's favour--I was surprised when Frabcus [King, her friend] commented on this, that surely anyone would prefer to be murdered by someone they loved, rather than have them leave and blackmail you--these seemed to him the only alternatives, but I can think of so many other duller ones.
Good god, can I ever!

Then there's this line from a note she sent her editor, Richard Ollard, after a domestic accident that sent her to the emergency room:
The next case brought in after me was an O/D-M/D--overdose, marital disagreement.
DSo I Have Thought of You is so full of pleasures that no one who has fallen for Fitzgerald's brilliantly lean, piercingly perceptive novels should be without it.

1 comment:

  1. A great book, but it's not just the index--the arrangement of the letters by recipient, ratehr than in order, really annoyed me too.

    Apropos of Hartley, I remember reading somebody (wish I could remember who) who talked to him agout 'The Go-Between', and was astonished to find that Hartley really did believe the couple having the secret affair were utterly and morally wrong, and deserved to be punished, and that Hartley himself had been astounded to find that the readers all sympathised with them.