Letters of Ted Hughes, Ed. Christopher Reid

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The Independent Culture

In dreams, as another poet wrote, begin responsibilities. Whatever else happens in the lurching trajectory as poet, critic and national icon that these addictive letters record, Ted Hughes stays a serious dreamer.

At Cambridge, he recalls later, a talking fox came to the troubled Yorkshire lad in sleep and told him that the analytic mind was "destroying us". In 1998, year of his death, he tells his son of "animal confrontation" dreams in which a frog jumping at glass connects with a lifelong effort to be "whole": "Being a writer was in a way a side-issue". Whether others paid too dearly for this fierce quest often concerns him. Beyond all dispute, this volume, wisely edited, bears eloquent, exciting witness to a uniquely rich career.