Robert Frost Clothed in New Habilitations?
Or thawed out?
New York Times
Ever since I had to memorize "Fire and Ice" in the eighth grade under Mrs. DeShazo, I've loved the poetry of Robert Frost, but I learned how little I know about the man when I read that his memory had recently been rehabilitated.
Rehabilitated? Yep. Through his own, previously unknown, correspondence!
Talk about sartor resartus! I hadn't even known he'd been in the scholarly doghouse and needed redressing in habiliments proper for readmittance to the house of honorable artists! But apparently:
[H]is handpicked chronicler, Lawrance Thompson, . . . emerged from decades of assiduous note-taking with a portrait of the poet as a cruel, jealous megalomaniac -- "a monster of egotism" who left behind "a wake of destroyed human lives," as the critic Helen Vendler memorably put it on the cover of The New York Times Book Review in 1970. (Jennifer Schuessler, "The Road Back: Frost's Letters Could Soften a Battered Image," NYT, February 4, 2014)One tends to trust a "handpicked chronicler," but new evidence of "more than 3,000 letters" offers a very different view, a sentiment seconded by "Jay Parini, a Frost biographer," who says that "The idea of Frost as a jealous, mean-spirited, misogynist career-builder . . . is nothing short of nuts."
That's good to know. His "handpicked chronicler" -- soon to be 'chronically henpecked' -- was WRONG!
The truth is likely somewhere in between -- most of us are a mixed bag of saint and sinner, angel and demon, hero and wretch . . . and I know I tend more toward the latter of those, so even Frost, however better he may be, will still be found to have feet of clay . . .
But he was no monster.