Skip to main content

Jeffrey Meyers

Jeffrey Meyers grew up in New York, was an undergraduate at Michigan and earned his doctorate at Berkeley. Since 1992 he been a professional writer in Berkeley, California.

Author

Anguished Vision

Lucian Freud: Recent Work. By Catherine Lampert. Metropolitan Museum of Art. $35 paper. Lucian Freud, the grandson of Sigmund, was born in Berlin in 1922 and came to England in 1933, the year Hitler took power. Educated at two progressive schools, [...]

T. E. Lawrence and the Character of the Arabs

Fall 2004 | Essays


In a letter of December 1910, the young T. E. Lawrence defined civilization as "the power of appreciating the character and achievements of peoples in a different stage than ourselves." No Englishman had a greater understanding of the past glory of Arab civilization and the modern contrast between nomads and city folk; of the desert tribes and customs; of homosexuality and asceticism, fanaticism and religion; of the Bedouin methods of warfare, their blood feuds, bribery, plunder, and massacres; of the heights and depths of the Arab character.

Terminator: The Legacy of Ted Hughes

Spring 2004 | Criticism

Her Husband: Hughes and Plath—A Marriage. By Diane Middlebrook. Viking, October 2003. $25.95 Collected Poems. By Ted Hughes. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, November 2003. $50  The lunatic, the lover and the poet, Are of imagination all compact. [...]

Gonzo Ginsberg and Moby Dickey: A Memoir

Last year America lost two of its finest poets: James Dickey died in January, Allen Ginsberg in April. These poets— redneck and rabbi—were opposites in almost every way. The gentle, sweet-tempered Ginsberg spoke rapidly with a New York accent. [...]

The Theater of Politics

The First Duce: D'Annunzio at Fiume. By Michael Ledeen. Johns Hopkins. $13.50. IN September 1919, while the Great Powers were debating the future of Fiume at the Paris Peace Conference, the poet and war hero, Gabriele D'Annunzio, seized the Adriati [...]

Frozen Eyes

The Big Sleep. By David Thomson. British Film Institute. 89. 95 paperback; Howard Hawks: American Artist. Edited by Jim Hillier and Peter Wollen. British Film Institute. $45.00, $19.95 paperback; Howard Hawks: The Grey Fox of Hollywood By Todd McCa [...]

Forster the Teapot Warmer

E. M. Forster: A Life. By P. N. Furbank. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. $19.95. IN a survey of "Reputations Revisited," conducted by the Times Literary Supplement in January 1977, three distinguished contemporary novelists—Angus Wilson, Anthony Powel [...]

From Cubism to Classicism

A Life of Picasso. Volume II: 1907—1917. By John Richardson. Random House. page=$5500 This handsomely designed and bountifully illustrated volume opens when Picasso is 26 and devotes 500 pages to ten years—only one-ninth of his long life. Bu [...]

The Manns: Mirrors of History

The Brothers Mann. By Nigel Hamilton. Yale. $16.95. Nigel Hamilton convincingly argues that Thomas and Heinrich Mann had the most significant literary brotherhood of all time, for in their lives "German history was mirrored—and borne out—in al [...]

Bogart and Hemingway

The similarities between Humphrey Bogart and Ernest Hemingway are quite striking. They were both born in 1899, and Hemingway died four years after Bogart. They belonged to prominent, upper-class families, which had come from Northern Europe to Ameri [...]

Wyndham Lewis and T.S. Eliot: A Friendship

A impressive concentration of subtle minds took place vhen Wyndham Lewis first met T.S.Eliot, who became a lifelong friend, in Ezra Pound's little triangular sitting room at 6 Holland Park Chambers in Kensington, early in 1915. Eliot had made the ac [...]

Splendors and Miseries of Literary Biography

Samuel Johnson's belief, "There has rarely passed a life of which a judicious and faithful narrative would not be useful," has prevailed from his time until our own. But choosing a subject can be nearly as arduous as writing the biography itself. Si [...]

Wintry Conscience

George Orwell: A Life. By Bernard Crick. Atlantic-Little, Brown. $17.95. Orwell's uncompromising intellectual honesty made him one of the most controversial figures of the 20th century. In his credo "Why I Write" (1947), he recalled the effect of [...]

Dark Vision

India: A Million Mutinies Now. By V. S. Naipaul. Viking. $24. 95. In the 1880's Naipaul's Brahmin grandparents migrated from the impoverished Gangetic plain to toil as indentured servants on the sugar plantations of Trinidad. He was born on that i [...]

The Death of Randall Jarrell

What does being a poet mean? It means having one's own personal life, one's reality, in quite different categories from those of one's poetic work, it means being related to the ideal in imagination only, so that one's own personal life is more [...]

Seen Everything, Knows Everything

The Letters of Rudyard Kipling. Volume 1: 1872—89, Volume 2: 1890—99. Edited by Thomas Pinney. Iowa. $42.50 each, $85.00 a set. Born in Bombay in 1865, the son of an artist and teacher, with a minor public-school but not a university education [...]

Lawrence Unveiled

T. E. Lawrence: A Critical Study. By Robert Warde. Garland. $55.00. "Not a Suitable Hobby for an Airman"—T. E. Lawrence as Publisher. By V.M. Thompson. Orchard Books (Oxford). $12.00 paper. An Iconography: The Portraits of T.E. Lawrence. By Charl [...]

“Splinter of Ice”

The Life of Graham Greene. Volume I: 1904—1939. By Norman Sherry. Viking. $29.95. Graham Greene is the oldest and most distinguished English novelist. He published his first book, Babbling April, in 1925 and his most recent, The Captain and th [...]

The Quest for D.H. Lawrence

A witty English reviewer of my life of Hemingway called me the Mother Theresa of biographers, constantly attempting to resurrect literary lepers like Wyndham Lewis and Hemingway, and make them palatable to the public. I planned to continue my nun-li [...]

“The Immediate, Instant Self”

Self and Sequence: The Poetry of D. H. Lawrence. By Holly Laird. Virginia. $35. Lady Chatterley: The Making of the Novel. By Derek Britton. Unwin-Hyman. $44.95. These books appear in a late phase of Lawrence studies—Laird's is the sixth volum [...]

Downhill All the Way

The Letters of Delmore Schwartz, Edited by Robert Phillips. Ontario Review Press.$24.94. Randall Jarrell's Letters. Edited by Mary Jarrell. Houghton Mifflin.$29.95. Delmore Schwartz (1913—66) and Randall Jarrell (1914—65) represent two main cu [...]

The Quest for Hemingway

The most complicated subject that I know, since I am a man, is a man's life.     Hemingway, "The Christmas Gift" My biography of Hemingway began as a life of Pound. Harvester Press offered me a contract to write a life of the "good Pound," up to [...]

A Portrait of Arthur Miller

In the 1970's I wrote two literary biographies, one on Katherine Mansfield, a short-story writer from New Zealand who died early at the peak of her career; the other on Wyndham Lewis, an original novelist, great painter and incurable outsider who d [...]

Memoirs of Hemingway: the Growth of A Legend

He looked at the one with the moustache again. "This guy is very tough," he told him. "He wants to shoot an Indian." "Listen, Hemingway, don't repeat everything I say". . . ."I can't think of any reason why he should call me Hemingway," the big [...]

The Hemingways: An American Tragedy

After my book Hemingway: A Biography had been accepted for publication by Harper & Row in 1984, it had to be read by the company lawyer to make sure there were no libelous passages and no infringement of copyright. I was told this would take two we [...]

Cosmic Sorrows

Robert Loivell: A Biography. By lan Hamilton. Random House. $19.95. Lowell's life (1917—77), in essence, was a long series of severe mental breakdowns astonishingly combined with the creation of the greatest American poetry since the Second W [...]

Family Memoirs of Thomas Mann

Mann fathered six children in symmetrical pairs—girl-boy, boy-girl, girl-boy—between 1905 and 1919. No writer (not even Tolstoy) has been so exhaustively written about by members of his immediate family. Thomas' wife, Katia, and four of his imm [...]

A Wanderer After Sensations

A Prince of Our Disorder: The Life of T. E. Lawrence. By John Mack. Little, Brown. $15.00. T. E. Lawrence was a self-conscious and introspective Phaethon-figure who compensated for feelings of inferiority by reckless aspirations and self-lacerating [...]