John Montague Papers 1962-1968 | English | SIU

Southern Illinois University



College of Liberal Arts

John Montague Papers 1962-1968

This collection of John Montague Papers, selected by the poet, is largely composed of poetry manuscripts, nearly all of which are from the poet's volume All Legendary Obstacles, published in 1966 by Liam Miller's Dolmen Press, and correspondence, mainly relating to Montague's book. The collection also includes a manuscript of explanatory criticism by Montague and a few miscellaneous items, including several reviews of All Legendary Obstacles and a postcard picture of the carvings at Khajurao, India, which inspired Montague's poem "Sentence for Konarak."

Most of the twenty-one manuscripts are typed; some are written in Montague's hand; and many have autograph revisions by the author. There are at least two, and often three or four, versions of all but one of the poems from All Legendary Obstacles (there are no manuscripts of "A Charm"). These give readers an excellent look at Montague's composing process. Among the poetry manuscripts is a prose piece by Montague, also titled "All Legendary Obstacles," discussing his style and poems and reacting to criticism of his work.

The twenty-six pieces of correspondence, which cover the years 1962-68, focus mainly on All Legendary Obstacles. Nearly half of the letters are from Liam Miller, and concern the publishing of Montague's book, including revision of poems, printing, and layout. Several correspondents, including John Jordan, editor of Poetry Ireland, and Denis Donoghue, offer insightful criticism of the poet's verse. The collection's only letter from Montague (to Aidan Higgins) mentions a "longer work" the poet has been "dreaming over for years," one he wants to publish "in sections, like the Cantos." Other correspondents include Robert Graves, Barrie Cooke (whose line drawing appears in Montague's book), Judith Evans, and Charles Tomlinson.