The Letters of T.S. Eliot: Volume One, 1898-1922 (revised edition)

TS Eliot, Valerie Eliot (ed.), Hugh Haughton (ed.)

The Letters of T.S. Eliot: Volume One, 1898-1922 (revised edition)

Volume One of the "Letters of T. S. Eliot", edited by Valerie Eliot in 1988, covered the period from Eliot's childhood in St Louis, Missouri, to the end of 1922, by which time he had settled in England, married and published "The Waste Land". Since 1988, Valerie Eliot has continued to gather materials from collections, libraries and private sources in Britain and America, towards the preparation of subsequent volumes of the Letters edition. Among new letters to have come to light, a good many date from the years 1898-1922, which has necessitated a revised edition of Volume One, taking account of approximately two hundred newly discovered items of correspondence. The new letters fill crucial gaps in the record, notably enlarging our understanding of the genesis and publication of "The Waste Land". Valuable, too, are letters from the earlier and less documented part of Eliot's life, which have been supplemented by additional correspondence from family members in America. 4.9 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
The Letters of T.S. Eliot: Volume One, 1898-1922 (revised edition)

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Literary Studies & Criticism, Essays, Journals & Letters
Format Hardback
Pages 912
RRP £35.00
Date of Publication November 2009
ISBN 978-0571235094
Publisher Faber & Faber
 

Volume One of the "Letters of T. S. Eliot", edited by Valerie Eliot in 1988, covered the period from Eliot's childhood in St Louis, Missouri, to the end of 1922, by which time he had settled in England, married and published "The Waste Land". Since 1988, Valerie Eliot has continued to gather materials from collections, libraries and private sources in Britain and America, towards the preparation of subsequent volumes of the Letters edition. Among new letters to have come to light, a good many date from the years 1898-1922, which has necessitated a revised edition of Volume One, taking account of approximately two hundred newly discovered items of correspondence. The new letters fill crucial gaps in the record, notably enlarging our understanding of the genesis and publication of "The Waste Land". Valuable, too, are letters from the earlier and less documented part of Eliot's life, which have been supplemented by additional correspondence from family members in America.

Read extracts from the letters at Times Online

Reviews

The Evening Standard

David Sexton

There are 20 more letters included here written by Eliot's first wife, Vivien, as well as a lot more fairly routine business correspondence, but, on first impressions, there seems little here so different from what was already known as to suggest that Valerie Eliot's original edition was trying to project or protect a particular image of Eliot, as has been suspected.

05/11/2009

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The London Review of Books

Laurence Rainey

Many of the newly included letters are unremitting in their emphasis on the trivial and ephemeral, on quotidian haplessness... The result contradicts the glossier image of Eliot presented by the previous version of this volume. It is as if the waspish elegance and dogmatic certitude of his published prose were being coated with layer after layer of fine dust, the grit of everyday experience, the messiness of the ordinary. At the heart of this revised volume lies a mild but real paradox: the source of its triumph is its emphasis on the trivial.

01/12/2009

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The Daily Telegraph

Jeremy Noel-Tod

At times, it reads like an epistolary epic about a man trying to keep up with High Modernist society: “Looking forward to seeing you” (Virginia Woolf); “I regret missing you yesterday” (Ezra Pound); “Let me know about Tuesday” (Wyndham Lewis)... Those familiar with the original version of Volume One will realise that Valerie Eliot’s discretion was partly directed towards the excision of unexciting matter. But her policy, which Haughton has observed, of including the letters of those closest to the often reticent Eliot continues to lend illuminating new perspectives.

06/11/2009

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The Sunday Times

John Carey

Looking back in the 1960s he wondered why he had ever married [Vivien]. His friends wondered, too. Virginia Woolf found her “so scented, so powdered, so egotistic, so morbid, so weakly” that it made her “almost vomit”. Eliot concluded he had really wanted just a “mild affair” with Vivien, but, being a shy American boy, he was too timid to suggest it so he married her instead. He may have been ignorant as well as timid. One of the newly printed early letters is from his father, Henry, who expresses his disapproval of sex education, and hopes that no cure for syphilis will ever be found, since it is “God’s punishment for nastiness”.

08/11/2009

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The Spectator

Craig Raine

Eliot’s own new letters are mostly brief, businesslike and boring. But there is one fragment of a letter to his brother, consoling Henry over a disappointed love affair and adding that he (Eliot) lives ‘among a set of people some of whom would probably shock your friends (all of them) terribly by varieties of “immorality” with no pretense.’ (Clive Bell’s relationship with Mary Hutchinson, Bertrand Russell’s relationship with Ottoline Morrell, and Bloomsbury homosexuality passim.)

11/11/2009

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