He Grew Old
How the sensitive young poet became a disciplined man of letters
Volume 1 of The Letters of T. S. Eliot, which takes us from the poet’s childhood in St. Louis through The Waste Land, appeared in 1988, the year of Eliot’s centenary; the revised edition, meticulously edited by the poet’s widow, Valerie Eliot, this time with the help of Hugh Haughton, adds some two hundred additional letters, many of them negligible but some containing real revelations, as do the amended notes. Volume 2, more than twenty years in the making, covers only the years 1923–25. Given that Eliot was to live for another forty years, and that these first two volumes run to more than 1,800 pages, one wonders when and even whether this multivolume edition will reach conclusion.
Never mind: The story these volumes tell is so fascinating that I could not put them down. The young Tom Eliot, who graduated from
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