M. D. Hudson's Reviews > Charlotte Mew And Her Friends

Charlotte Mew And Her Friends by Penelope Fitzgerald
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Dec 14, 09

Read in December, 2009

Charlotte Mew was an English poet born in 1869, died a (gruesome) suicide in 1928. She was a deeply divided (socially, economically and sexually), troubled woman of immense talent, mostly thwarted but not quite genius. Fitzgerald’s handling of the subject is masterful if quirky in the usual Fitgeraldian ways – the somewhat disjointed presentation of facts and events punctuated by observations and summings-up of astonishing penetration and sympathy. I first read this book eight years ago or so and enjoyed it a lot, although I was not that impressed by Mew’s poetry, it reading to me like a kind of quasi-Georgian sort of verse. Now, however, I see that I was wrong – despite an appearance of Georgian creakiness, Mew was a remarkable poet, exploring the desolation that comes with an overall lack of faith better than about anyone I can think of offhand this side of late John Berryman. There is an ample selection of Mew’s poetry at the end of the book. Mew’s life could easily be characterized as sheer tragedy, but Fitzgerald is far to subtle to go for such an easy take.
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