Eliot's New Life

Lyndall Gordon, Author
Lyndall Gordon, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $19.95 (356p) ISBN 978-0-374-14741-9
Reviewed on: 09/01/1988
Release date: 09/01/1988
This biography is the first to probe in depth T. S. Eliot's secret mental romance with Emily Hale, a Bostonian who replaced his mentally ill wife Vivienne as the muse of his mature years. Seeking release from his tormented first marriage, the poet made Emily his guardian spirit, according to Gordon; the need to diagnose suffering and evil motivated his Four Quartets and Sweeney Agonistes. Yet, when his wife suddenly died, leaving him free to remarry, he ditched Emily, having taken upon himself the lone path of the religious ordeal. Bossy, brainy Mary Trevelyan, a close friend who proposed marriage to Eliot twice, served as his prop during the most public phase of his career. Not until age 68, when he married his secretary Valerie Fletcher, did Eliot exchange solitude for intimacy and true love. In this sequel to her Eliot's Early Years , Gordon has fashioned an engrossing, highly original biography that uses previously unavailable letters to forge dozens of new links between his personal life and the poems and plays. Photos. (September)
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