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A Plethora of Reviews on the Third Collection of T.S. Eliot’s Letters

By Harriet Staff

The third installment of T.S. Eliot’s letters is out, and the reviews are in. According to The Guardian, this volume chronicles “the separation of the dapper man of letters from the agonised individual.” In these letters, written in 1926 and 1927, T.S. Eliot has tea with Virginia Woolf and banters with Harold Monro, but also struggles with his troubled wife, Vivienne.

[One narrative is ] the story of Eliot the exceptional juggler, sorting and sifting, capable of coping with a hail-storm of commitments.

The other, darker story shows Eliot standing in a shit-storm, buffeted and barely upright. Humbert Wolfe: “I can’t understand how a body so thin and white goes on living.” Aldous Huxley: “I lunched with Tom who looked terribly grey-green, drank no less than five gins with his meal.” Eliot himself was grimly bemused: “It often seems to me very bizarre that a person of my [Unitarian] antecedents should have had a life like a bad Russian novel.”

Now and then, Vivienne emerges from her troubled sense of persecution, the hallucinatory voices swarming in her head…

… More often, though, Vivienne was incapable of separating her troubled personality from her social self. Her spasmodic appearances were tainted by her inner turmoil.

Full Guardian post here. If you’re feeling especially curious, there are three more reviews, via the T.S. Eliot Society blog, in The Independent, the London Evening Standard, and the New Statesman.

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Posted in Poetry News on Monday, July 2nd, 2012 by Harriet Staff.