Friday, September 28, 2012
Robert Lowell: "I am tired. Everyone's tired of my turmoil." Poor Robert Lowell. The writer suffered terribly from manic depression and his inner "turmoil" greatly concerned his friends, including Flannery O'Connor. Lowell, who Flannery got to know during her stay at Yadoo, recognized her genius at once and encouraged her in her writing. He also introduced her to fellow poet Robert Fitzgerald and his wife, Sally, who were to become so crucial in O'Connor's life and career. Equally profound was Lowell's introduction of her to Robert Giroux, a junior editor at Harcourt Brace who later would add Flannery to Harcourt's growing stable of stars - including such luminaries as Jean Stafford (Lowell's first wife), T.S. Eliot, Hannah Arendt, and Robert Lowell himself. As the years went by Flannery became increasingly worried about her friend's mental disintegration. Yet through it all, according to Brad Gooch, Cal Lowell would "remain one of the rare souls for whom [Flannery] felt a lifelong affection." (Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor, p. 6).