The Letters of T.S. Eliot, Volume 2: 1923-1925, Revised Edition

Edited by Valerie Eliot and Hugh Haughton. Yale Univ., $45 (920p) ISBN 978-0-300-17686-5
Covering a shorter period than Volume One, this second installment spans two years of "crisis and consolidation, of severe domestic collapse and hard-won professional recovery." No longer a striving poet and burgeoning critic, a more mature Eliot undertakes greater responsibilities as editor, publisher, and arbiter. His talents now in great cultural demand, fleeting business communications provide a less linear narrative, but read as a who's who of literature, with Eliot welcoming contributions from Aldous Huxley, E.M. Forster, and D.H. Lawrence after founding The Criterion. This disjointedness, however, stems from an increasingly erratic life where hardship—financial, physical, and emotional—remains a prevalent theme, filtering into even the most formal of exchanges. Following a lengthy diatribe on the publishing industry in a letter to New York lawyer John Quinn, some desperate words are later added in ink: "I am worn out, I cannot go on." Eliot's letters poignantly detail triumph, tragedy, and hard-earned mutual respect—encapsulated in the penultimate letter revealing his elation at receiving a copy of The Great Gatsby, "the first step that American fiction had taken since Henry James." The copy arrived inscribed: "For T.S. Eliot/Greatest of Living Poets/from his enthusiastic/worshipper/F. Scott Fitzgerald." (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/19/2011
Release date: 09/01/2011
Hardcover - 912 pages - 978-0-300-17645-2
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