Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Quote: Edward Field

Edward Field"[Robert] Lowell was already unstable and coming out of his Catholic convert phase, but Lowell's eruption [the year before, 1950, when he had a nervous breakdown at Yaddo and telephoned the FBI to say that the artists' retreat was a nest of Communist subversives] has never been properly explained in any of the biographies, afraid to explore Lowell's sexual conflicts. But in his diary, Clifford [Wright] reports that supposedly hetero poet had been seduced by Charles Sebree, a black composer/artist, and it tipped him over the edge. Clifford's diary entry for Dec. 27, 1948, reads, 'Charles Sebree made a point of sleeping with him [Lowell] a couple of times and each time Cal (Lowell)' said the next morning he wasn't that sort of person.' Morning-after regrets are weak excuses. But after having thrown Yaddo in an uproar, Lowell conveniently checked himself into a mental hospital. Lowell was right that we were a bunch of 'subversives.' We were all out to subvert restrictive, conventional attitudes, and in spite of his breakdowns, shock treatments, and loosening up of his disciplined poetry, he remained an uptight bastard."
--Edward Field, from The Man Who Would Marry Susan Sontag, p. 51 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2005).


  1. Well, we all know some good lovin can make a man lose his mind. lol

    Kai in NYC

  2. Great find!

    I was eyeballing that book, THE MAN WHO WOULD MARRY SUSAN SONTAG, closely in a magazine and in Atlanta when I was interupted by some strange young girl working at the store who started to try and talk to me as if I did not understand "that world".

    It was early in the morning and I couldn't decide whether to just ignore her or eat her for breakfast. I just talked to her in the end. She meant no harm, she was in her early 20's. A kid. Cute and brave kid.

    Now I have to read it.

    Thanks for the quote.

  3. Get out! I've got the huge collection of Lowell letters on my desk at work...I can bet he wasn't confiding THIS bit of action to his co-respondents! I'll be on the lookout for Field's book as well. Thanks J!