The Letters of TS Eliot: Volume 4 1928-1929 (ed. Valerie Eliot and John Haffenden) – digested read
John Crace reduces the latest sheaf of correspondence from the literary giant and stationery lover to a manageable 500 words
Sun 6 Jan ‘13 18.30 GMT
Sun 6 Jan ‘13 18.30 GMT
Dear Mrs Woolf,
Thank you for sending me your new short story. I read it with great interest, but feel it is, perhaps, too frivolous for inclusion in The Monthly Criterion. Have you thought about sending it to Grazia? Yours, etc.
Dear Messrs Methuen,
I note with alarm that the paper for the new setting of The Sacred Wood is below the standard I expect. Please correct soonest. Yours, etc.
I trust that nothing will interfere with my stay at New College on the 9th proxima and that I will be accorded the same suite of rooms as previously. Does five guineas sound reasonable for my expenses? Yours, etc.
My dearest Ottoline,
I'm so grateful that Valerie managed to find room for a few of my maddest letters. La – la – la. Otherwise no one would have any idea how much of a saint Tom was to put up with me for so long before having me committed to an asylum. Such a wonderful Christian man! Anyone else might have been tempted to have an affair by my madness. The cat stood on the mat. Much love, Vivienne.
My darling Emily,
(Regrettably, all the correspondence between TS Eliot and Emily Hale has been embargoed until 2020, so readers will just have to take the chaste nature of their relationship on trust – Eds. PS. I've always hated that bitch – Valerie)
Thank you for sending me your new ditty. Unfortunately it is not quite suitable for The Monthly Criterion. Have you thought about taking remedial lessons in grammar and punctuation? Yours, etc.
It was a rare honour to meet someone, such as yourself, with more money than sense. As you know, The Monthly Criterion is struggling financially and with your help we could re-establish the magazine on a quarterly footing. Thank you also for your offer to publish an edition of my poems in Latin. Once I have fulfilled my contractual obligations to Faber, of which I am now a director, I shall be happy to accept. In the meantime, I submit my invoice for 300 guineas. Yours, etc.
I note that 12 paper-clips are missing from the office inventory and that my papers had not been placed perpendicular to the inkwell on my desk. This state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue. Yours, etc.
Thank you for sending me your latest verses. If they can be called that. I confess that I found them disappointing in the extreme – an opinion that I must make clear has nothing to do with your outspoken assertions that Vivienne is not really that mad. Have you tried The People's Friend? Yours, etc.
Dear Prince de Rohan,
Thank you for your appreciation of the German translation of my essay on Machiavelli. So often, one feels one is putting pearls before swine. Vivienne is doing as well as can be expected and I get enormous comfort from my faith. Yours, etc.
I am sorry I kept you waiting in the Faber ante-chamber for several hours. I had a very important meeting with my secretary. Do call the office to arrange another appointment some time next year. Yours, etc.
The paper-clips are still missing. Yours, etc.
Thank you for your invitation to speak at the Oxford Poetry Society. Regrettably, I must decline as I am exhausted. Having read a few lines of your latest work, dare I suggest that poetry is not your forte? I submit my invoice for 15 guineas for the expenses that would have accrued, had I accepted. Yours, etc.
Digested read, digested: A publisher's thank-you for being kept afloat by Cats.
DIGEST READ / KISS