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TS Eliot

Early in Steven Carroll’s novel Goodnight, Vivienne, Goodnight, a middle-aged woman contemplates her own existence: ‘Vivienne, Vivie. Viv. Now distant, now near. Who was she? The Vivienne now sitting in the gardens of Northumberland House, Finsbury Park, is contemplating the question.’ This Viv is Vivienne Haigh-Wood, the first wife of T.S. Eliot – or Carroll’s fictional rendition of her. Northumberland House is an asylum where, by 1940, Viv has lived for several years. Her previous actions include not accepting the end of her relationship with Eliot, dabbling in fascism (‘Did you tell him I just liked the uniform?’), and asking a police officer at five one morning if it’s true her husband has been beheaded. Institutionalised, she now lives in quiet defiance of other people’s perceptions and diagnoses of her. And with the help of her friend Louise and a group called the Lunacy Law Reform Society, she is about to do a runner.

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In his fiction, Steven Carroll stretches and slows time. He combines this with deliberate over-explaining and repetition, the echoing of memories and ideas, coincidence, and theatricality. A distinctive rhythm results: when reading his work, I often find myself nodding in time to the words. Occasionally – and it happens now and again in his new novel, A New En ...

The Poems of T.S. Eliot edited by Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue & The Poems of T.S. Eliot edited by Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue

April 2016, no. 380

For fifty years after his death, the works of the most influential English-language poet of the twentieth century were unavailable in a scholarly edition. Moreover, Collected Poems, 1909–1962, arranged by T.S. Eliot himself and published in 1963, contained a number of widely recognised textual errors. The publication of The Poems of T.S. Eliot ed ...

This long-anticipated first volume of Robert Crawford's biography of T.S. Eliot, the first with permission from the Eliot estate to quote the poet's correspondence and unpublished work, highlights the Young Eliot as – not least in the achievement of his poetry – always an Old Eliot. And yet the picture of Eliot as a child and adolescent is detailed. In Young ...

‘I am back again in London and smothered in work.’ Volume Three of T.S. Eliot’s letters opens to the poet working ‘hours [that] are long and late’, ‘under great pressure’ as a newly appointed professional editor and publisher. Eliot resigned from Lloyds Bank in late 1925 to join the board of Faber and Gwyer. The publishing house bought part of the Criterion, the literary periodical that Eliot produced alongside his banking job, and reissued it in January 1926 as the New Criterion, with Eliot as full-time, salaried editor.

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The Letters of T.S. Eliot, Volume 2: 1923–1925 edited by Valerie Eliot and Hugh Haughton

May 2010, no. 321

The first volume of  T.S. Eliot’s letters, published in 1988, covered his early life to the end of literary modernism’s annus mirabilis, 1922. The year was a turning point in the thirty-four-year-old Eliot’s career. In November he published the poem that made him famous, ‘The Waste Land’, in the inaugural edition of Criterion, the journal he was to edit until 1939.

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At about the time that he was preparing the final drafts of The Waste Land, T.S. Eliot was preoccupied by a separate, but no less overwhelming question: when to sell his shares in the Hydraulic-Press Brick Company. In October 1922, the month the poem was published in the periodical he edited, the Criterion, Eliot wrote to his brother, Henry: ‘For myself, the important point is that Hydraulic should rise and give me an opportunity to sell when Sterling is low: it looks as if Sterling might fall a few points before very long. Do you think that Hydraulic will continue to pay dividends for the next year or so?’

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