Elizabeth Bishop’s prose is not nearly as well known as her poetry, but she was a dazzling and compelling prose writer too, as the publication of her letters has shown. Her stories are often on the borderline of memoir, and vice versa. From her college days, she could find the most astonishing yet thoroughly apt metaphors to illuminate her ideas. This volume—edited by the poet, Pulitzer Prize–winning critic, and Bishop scholar Lloyd Schwartz—includes virtually all her published shorter prose pieces and a number of prose works not published until after her death. Here are her famous as well as her lesser-known stories, crucial memoirs, literary and travel essays, book reviews, and—for the first time—her original draft of Brazil, the Time/Life volume she repudiated in its published version, and the correspondence between Bishop and the poet Anne Stevenson, the author of the first book-length volume devoted to Bishop.
Elizabeth Bishop (1911–79) won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award.
“It is no exaggeration to say that these stories will be read beside her poems, as Keat’s letters are beside his . . . ‘The Sea & Its Shore’ and ‘In Prison’ [are] worthy of Kafka or Poe.” —David Kalstone, The New York Times Book Review
“A stunning collection. . . . These are the kind of stories you should linger over, savor, and rediscover again and again.” —Elin Schoen, Mademoiselle
“A record of merciless observation, full of surprises both tragic and comic . . . Again and again, in these pages, it is the precision that astonishes . . . So often what Bishop gives us are these small, exact glimpses of the mundane, shorn of all rhetorical indulgence. But when looking is thus transformed, will any word but ‘vision’ do?” —April Bernard, Newsday