It's easy to vilify Ted Hughes as the callous philanderer who broke Sylvia Plath's heart, had a suspiciously high number of suicidal wives, and went on write increasingly bombastic poetry. A somewhat different picture of Hughes, who died ten years ago, emerges from The Letters of Ted Hughes, which was just published. Papercuts runs the letter Hughes wrote to Plath's mother, Aurelia, after Sylvia's suicide, and its heartbreak has none of his poetry's remoteness. "Sylvia was one of the greatest truest spirits alive, and in her last months she became a great poet, and no other woman poet except Emily Dickinson can begin to be compared with her, and certainly no living American." Yes, "woman poet" and the dig at Americans, - he couldn't help it! - but still - you'll cry. It's always a revelation, too, to be reminded of what a loss letter-writing was for emotional expression! [NY Times]


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