The Letters of T.S. Eliot: Volume Two, 1923-25

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

The Letters of T.S. Eliot: Volume Two, 1923-25

Volume Two covers the early years of his editorship of "The Criterion" (the periodical that Eliot launched with Lady Rothermere's backing in 1922), publication of "The Hollow Men" and the course of Eliot's thinking about poetry and poetics after "The Waste Land". The correspondence charts Eliot's intellectual journey towards conversion to the Anglican faith in 1927, as well as his transformation from banker to publisher, ending with his appointment as a director of the new publishing house of Faber & Gwyer, in late 1925, and the appearance of "Poems 1909-1925", Eliot's first publication with the house with which he would be associated for the rest of his life. It was partly because of Eliot's profoundly influential work as cultural commentator and editor that the correspondence is so prolific and so various, and Volume Two of the "Letters" fully demonstrates the emerging continuities between poet, essayist, editor and letter-writer. 4.8 out of 5 based on 9 reviews
The Letters of T.S. Eliot: Volume Two, 1923-25

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Literary Studies & Criticism, Essays, Journals & Letters
Format Hardback
Pages 912
RRP £35.00
Date of Publication November 2009
ISBN 978-0571140817
Publisher Faber & Faber
 

Volume Two covers the early years of his editorship of "The Criterion" (the periodical that Eliot launched with Lady Rothermere's backing in 1922), publication of "The Hollow Men" and the course of Eliot's thinking about poetry and poetics after "The Waste Land". The correspondence charts Eliot's intellectual journey towards conversion to the Anglican faith in 1927, as well as his transformation from banker to publisher, ending with his appointment as a director of the new publishing house of Faber & Gwyer, in late 1925, and the appearance of "Poems 1909-1925", Eliot's first publication with the house with which he would be associated for the rest of his life. It was partly because of Eliot's profoundly influential work as cultural commentator and editor that the correspondence is so prolific and so various, and Volume Two of the "Letters" fully demonstrates the emerging continuities between poet, essayist, editor and letter-writer.

Read extracts from the letters at Times Online

Reviews

The Guardian

Stefan Collini

...these letters will, I fear, be a disappointment to many readers. Though they document the tribulations of his and Vivienne's illnesses and unhappiness in heart-bludgeoning detail, they contain no great revelations, nor are most of them captivating pieces of writing in the way in which, say, the recently published selection of early Beckett letters is... Overwhelmingly, the letters from this period were written by Eliot in his capacity as editor of the Criterion and, if this is something that interests you (I must warn you that it interests me a lot), then this volume is rich in fascinating detail.

07/11/2009

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The Literary Review

Richard Davenport-Hines

This volume is enthralling for anyone who cares for Eliot’s poetry, or is interested in the emergence of literary cr iticism as an austere and systematic discipline, or in pan-European cultural ideas, or in the neuroses of the American rentier class.

01/12/2009

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The London Review of Books

Michael Wood

...This tale of time swallowed up, what Eliot calls ‘the prison-like limitation of my time’, is one of the two chief themes of the second volume of the Letters. The other is the competitive invalidism the Eliots have instead of a marriage. The union must have been rocky in all kinds of ways from the start, and in one or two letters the indications are perfectly clear, but the main impression we get from the bulk of what the two of them wrote to others is a desperate but not unkind inability to speak about anything except their own and each other’s health.

03/12/2009

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The Evening Standard

David Sexton

Even though some key letters have been quoted before by critics and biographers, it is a quite different experience to read them all, complete, in sequence... Eliot's editorial correspondence is enough to humble anyone who has ever tried any form of literary editorship... The correspondence relating to Vivien is lacerating.

05/11/2009

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The Daily Telegraph

Jeremy Noel-Tod

Although Tom & Viv will not be refilmed, hopefully the publication of [these letters] will leave no doubt as to Eliot’s sincere emotional desire to save his marriage. These letters will, however, feed another controversy with their confirmation of a “racial prejudice” about Jews... What is new and valuable in these letters for admirers of the inspired poet, acute critic and urbane editor is the full portrait of a man living with the esteem of having written The Waste Land.

06/11/2009

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The Times

Elaine Feinstein

These long-anticipated letters are shrewd, graceful and courteous... Eliot’s letters have little of the vitality and immediacy we find in the correspondence of D. H. Lawrence, but then, aside from an impulsive marriage, they come out of an altogether more wary life.

14/11/2009

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The Sunday Times

John Carey

He writes to the critic John Middleton Murry in 1925 that, in the years since he married, he has made himself into “a machine” in order “not to feel”. “I have deliberately killed my senses,” he admits, and he is afraid that if he lets his senses come alive again the shock may “kill” Vivien. This confession suggests that the cultural and political doctrines Eliot adopted in the Criterion may have stemmed more directly from his unhappy, sexless marriage, and his attempt to turn himself into an unfeeling automaton, than from any serious cultural or political thinking.

08/11/2009

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The Spectator

Craig Raine

When Volume One originally appeared, there were accusations of suppression when ill-disposed critics failed to find evidence of careerism and rabid anti-Semitism. The record has to be as complete as it can be — now. The distortion of editorial method, the extra expense to the reader, is inevitable in the mistrustful critical climate created by Anthony Julius’s study of Eliot’s alleged anti-Semitism. Actually, in two volumes of about 1700 pages, there are perhaps two (maybe three) questionable moments, none of them conclusive.

11/11/2009

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The Financial Times

John Sutherland

Business letters have their interest. But there is, in these hundreds of pages, a striking absence of intimate communications... This is not an enjoyable collection. Eliot is a fluent letter-writer but he reserved his genius for poetry, drama and criticism. Nonetheless, the letters, en masse, are informative and corrective. The impression one takes away from this volume is of a good man martyrised – and much literature forever lost because of it.

16/11/2009

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