The Letters of T. S. Eliot Volume 5: 1930-1931
Volume 5 of The Letters of T. S. Eliot (1930-1931) finds the poet between the ages of forty-two and forty-four, reckoning with the strict implications of his Christian faith for his life, his work, and his poetry. Edited by John Haffenden.
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‘The book amounts to a comprehensive literary history of the time.’ David Sexton, Evening Standard
Volume 5 of The Letters of T. S. Eliot finds the poet, between the ages of forty-two and forty-four, reckoning with the strict implications of his Christian faith for his life, his work, and his poetry.
The letters between Eliot and his associates, family and friends – his correspondents range from the Archbishop of York and the American philosopher Paul Elmer More to the writers Virginia Woolf, Herbert Read and Ralph Hodgson – serve to illuminate the ways in which his Anglo-Catholic convictions could, at times, prove a self-chastising and even alienating force. ‘Anyone who has been moving among intellectual circles and comes to the Church, may experience an odd and rather exhilarating feeling of isolation,’ he remarks. Notwithstanding, he becomes fully involved in doctrinal controversy: he espouses the Church as an arena of discipline and order.
Eliot’s relationship with his wife, Vivien, continues to be turbulent, and at times desperate, as her mental health deteriorates and the communication between husband and wife threatens, at the coming end of the year, to break down completely. At the close of this volume Eliot will accept a visiting professorship at Harvard University, which will take him away from England and Vivien for the academic year 1932-33.
[John Haffenden's] presentation of these letters is impeccable. As well as providing a "biographical register" of Eliot's main correspondents, Haffenden has annotated them with extraordinary assiduity, explaining the context, quoting illuminatingly and supplying brief biographies of all involved, in such a way that, with Eliot at its centre, the book amounts to a comprehensive literary history of the time.
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