James Dickey by Henry Hart
The World as a Lie

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A fascinating biography of one of the most popular, colorful, and notorious American poets of our century.

The legendary Southern poet James Dickey never shied away from cultivating a heroic mystique. Like Norman Mailer and Ernest Hemingway, he earned a reputation as a sportsman, boozer, war hero, and womanizer as well as a great poet, novelist, screenwriter, and essayist. But James Dickey made lying both a literary strategy and a protective camouflage; even his family and closest friends failed to distinguish between the mythical James Dickey and the actual man. Henry Hart sees lying as the central theme to Dickey's life; and in this authoritative, immensely entertaining biography he delves deep behind Dickey's many masks. Letters, anecdotes, tall tales and true ones, as well as the reluctant but finally candid cooperation of Dickey himself animate Hart's narration of a remarkable life.

Readers of Dickey's National Book Award-winning poetry, his bestselling novel Deliverance, and anyone who witnessed his electrifying readings of his work will savor this book.


About Henry Hart

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Henry Hart is the author of critical books on Seamus Heaney, Robert Lowell, and Geoffrey Hill, as well as two books of poetry. Hart is a professor of English at the College of William & Mary, and lives in Virginia.
Published September 8, 2001 by Picador. 848 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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Yet the reader puts down Hart's frankly detailed tome wondering whether the author of Deliverance (1970) was worth the years spent tracking down what Hart depicts as his obsessive lying, his compulsive philandering, his exploitation of intimates, his spiral downward from postmodernist highflier t...

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Publishers Weekly

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Hart, a professor at the College of William and Mary, has assembled excerpts from all of Dickey's novels, along with his yearning, provocative essays and 116 pages of Dickey's poems--early, Roethkeish apprentice stanzas;

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The Paris Review

That summer I spent in Savoie writing those press releases for Lectures in America, I'd watch her sitting in a bath chair on her terrace with a big notebook, writing just as fast as she could, the pen flying, no pauses whatsoever.

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Dickey dedicated the poem to his college football coaches, which seems to infuriate Hart, who reveals that Dickey and his son Kevin experienced a much calmer version of the incident: While the obeisance smacks of the sort of sentimentality evident in Dickey's Clemson letters to his parents, other...

Jun 28 2000 | Read Full Review of James Dickey: The World as a Lie

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