Questioning Minds: The Letters of Guy Davenport and Hugh Kenner has been for me, and will be for many others, the most intellectually exhilarating work published in 2018 ... the book’s redoubtable editor, Edward M. Burns, identifies every name, reference and allusion, elevating his sometimes essaylike notes into an integral, invaluable part of the correspondence itself ... [Kenner's] own darting prose, abounding in surprising factoids and anecdotes...makes his writing vastly entertaining ... Davenport ranges more widely, not just discussing scholarly undertakings but exuberantly relating holidays with girlfriends and, more cagily, with motorcycling boyfriends. A brilliant draftsman, he works up humorous pen-and-ink caricatures for Kenner’s The Stoic Comedians: Flaubert, Joyce and Beckett while also starting to develop his assemblages, sui generis composites of speculative fiction, literary history, artwork and criticism ... As gossip alone, Questioning Minds is irresistible ... In a world of fast-buck bestsellers, Counterpoint has brought serious readers a lasting treasure.
The frenetic pace of their letter writing is astounding, with sometimes two or three letters piling up in a few days before the answers to the originals were written. Some of the letters are long, some stark and confessional, yet all display good humor as well as a unique patois ... The volumes are filled with little gems of observation ... These letters are also an elegy for a world not dominated by technology, where one had to physically track things down ... these 'questioning minds' were two of the most refined artistic sensibilities this continent has ever produced. Readers can be grateful that their complex friendship has been so beautifully enshrined in Burns’s scrupulous volumes.
... a gem of the form ... amounts to something like an intellectual love affair, replete with moments of courtship, seduction, devotion, and, eventually, betrayal. Given the polymathic depth of the correspondents, their associative flair and plasticity, and the sheer duration of their passionate exchange—nearly five decades, all told—we are unlikely to find a document of its like again ... The collection is wonderfully, exhaustively annotated throughout by editor Edward Burns ... often reads like the almanac of a brilliant and eccentric family. Beneath the heat of their native curiosity, even the most arcane subjects achieve a sudden, flaring warmth ... not merely a rich modernist inventory (even if, for some readers, this will happily be its main appeal). There are also instances of unlikely literary adventure and intrigue.