David Herd reviews Collected Letters in TLS

David Herd wrote a concise and elegant review of the Collected Letters of Charles Olson and J.H. Prynne in the Times Literary Supplement (Aug. 1, 2018).

Prynne’s commitment to Maximus, and to the sense of human relation it ultimately sought to make possible, couldn’t be doubted. Catching Olson in medias res, what the correspondence quickly comes to document is the extraordinary energy with which Prynne contributed to the production of Maximus IV, V, VI, acting, as he did, as Olson’s British-based researcher. As early as 1962 Olson posed a question of fact arising from his own investigations, this time relating to Weymouth, where he wanted information about Portbook 873. From which point, letters from Prynne frequently carried the evidence of his exhaustive researches at various archives: transcriptions of portbooks, biographies of merchants, accounts of the cargoes of individual ships. Olson had set his course and Prynne was resolved to assist, sending information across the Atlantic at a rate Olson could barely handle.