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Inventions of the March Hare: Poems 1909-1917 Hardcover – April 15, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Once regarded as the champion of internationalist culture, in recent years T. S. Eliot has been reclassified as a racist, a misogynist, and a fascist. His life has been the subject of numerous critical studies and even one mainstream film, Tom and Viv, which dissected the intimate details of Eliot's marriage to Vivien Haigh-Wood. With the publication of Inventions of the March Hare, admirers and critics of Eliot will gain new insight into the poet as a young man. The 40 poems contained in this volume were all written between the years 1909 and 1917, a period during which Eliot graduated from Harvard, spent a year in France, studied Buddhism and Sanskrit at Cambridge University, met Ezra pound, and married Vivien.

These poems reveal a great deal about T. S. Eliot, the man and the poet. His borrowings from other poets are often apparent (an older Eliot once declared: "immature poets imitate; mature poets steal"), as are the repressed scatological, sexual, and neurotic impulses that would have been offensive or shocking to readers of his time. The annotations by editor Christopher Ricks add to our understanding of the poems themselves and what they expose about their author's complicated psyche.

From Library Journal

Though available in manuscript to scholars since 1968, this is the first appearance?for all but five poems?of Eliot's "lost" notebook of drafts and fragments. Eliot never intended this unfinished work to see publication, but in page after page his autumnal sensibility, his signature aura of languid urban malaise?however tentative?surfaces unmistakably: "We hibernate among the bricks/ And live across the window panes/ With marmalade and tea at six/ Indifferent to what the wind does." With more than 300 pages of crepuscular notes to accompany barely 100 pages of poetry, this edition is very much an academic enterprise, but it reveals fascinating dimensions of a young poetic imagination poised at the threshold of maturity. Among stuttering overtures for "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and politically incorrect, ribald lyrics lurk intriguing attempts like "Suite Clownesque," which hints at a postmodernism ("In trying to construe this text: 'Where shall we go to next?'") decades away. For scholars and devotees, Eliot's rehearsals for immortality will yield a cornucopia of delights.
-?Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, N.Y.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 472 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1st U.S. ed edition (April 15, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151002746
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151002740
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,690,530 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 21, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Eliot is known to undergrads and postgrads as the genius poet of "Four Quartets" and "The Wasteland;" a man who wrote some of the greatest and most confusing verse of the twentieth century. While the rewards of exploration into such poems are certainly great, it is perhaps a more human need for emotional comfort. The above, professional reviews focus on the small section of bawdry verse in the work, but the majority of this collection is devoted to the great, early emotional works of Eliot. The only familiar poem to most readers will probably be "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" (with a previously unpublished extension) and a more perfect banner work could not have been chosen. The poems are beautiful, concise, imagistic, painful, somber, but most of all lonely. Here in his early years Eliot is not living in an academic world, simply the world--with love, hypocrisy, doubt, joy, and emptiness. To read the greatest poet of our centu! ry describe that which is greatly profound is a privilege, here to read him describe what is simply profound is a gift. I recommend this book over all other collections of Eliot's or anyone else's verse. If you were not one of the 11th graders who discarded Prufrock as a helpless reject, and instead saw him as a deeply lonely individual much like ourselves, this volume is for you. It will touch your life and make you just that much more complete.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By elfin on October 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
It's not Eliot's best work of course, but that's not why I bought it. I ordered this collection to better understand Eliot before he became Eliot. I found a few books of his very early poetry in my local university's library, but nothing for the years between childhood and Prufrock. I think I've gained a little more insight into one of my favorite modern poets.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By jess2015 on August 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I absolutely love this book. I've always been a fan of T. S. Eliot, so I was very happy with "Inventions of the March Hare". It contains all of the famed Prufrock poems, as well as other well-known and previously unpublished poetry. There are also explanatory notes after the poems, and it even includes letters written by Eliot. I highly recommend "Inventions" for any Eliot, or poetry, fan.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brandon Matuja on September 23, 2014
Format: Hardcover
As a huge T.S. Eliot fan, I'm of course biased. But this collection of poems written in the years right before the publication of his first volume of poetry ("Prufrock and Other Observations") will fascinate his other fans, and perhaps other readers as well. Truth be told, these earlier poems often lack the power and immortality of Eliot's later, more popular poetry, but then again the main attraction here is simply that these are previously unpublished poems now available, and they reveal more hints and examples of Eliot's own spiritual journey as a poet, finding his voice. (There are plenty of notes and footnotes, also, to aid in our understanding.) From what I recall of Eliot's biographies, this was the period when the poet was most heavily influenced by the French poet Jules LaForgue, and like him was experimenting with poeticizing the mundane, the commonplace, and even things like marionettes and clowns. There are real treasures and revelations to be discovered in this volume.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By moby pablo on October 16, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Eliot's early poetry is neglected. Perhaps it does not rise to the level of the stuff we read- but is fascinating none the less.
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