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.
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