Thom Gunn and Misanthropos

"Misanthropos"

Sources of Inspiration

 

"I search for meaning, studying to remember / what the world was, and meant. Therefore I try / To reconstruct it in a dying ember"

 

Notebook entry, September 1963-January 1964

Gunn's notebooks list sources for his poems. In this entry, titled "Volume I of notes for For the Survivor," Gunn lists as sources for "Misanthropos" works of great variety, both from a span of historical periods and from disparate genres.

Notebook entries, February 1958

Notebook entry, September 1963-January 1964

This entry, "A First Draft of the Series as Series," is one of several drafts illustrating Gunn's arrangement of "Misanthropos" that also includes a dedication to Don Doody, an American friend and Tony Tanner, a Cambridge (UK) critic. Tanner and Gunn met at the University of California, Berkeley, where Gunn was a faculty member when Tanner was a visiting scholar on a Harkness Fellowship. Many of the themes and ideas in "Misanthropos" were influenced by Gunn's discussions with Doody and Tanner.

Notebook entries, February 1958

"The Book for the Survivor: Misanthropos, Last Notebook," January 1965

Gunn consulted with Tanner as he wrote "Misanthropos." In this draft of a letter to Tanner, Gunn responds to Tanner's criticisms and sends a new version of the poem for Tanner to review.

Notebook entries, May 2, 1963