Needless Fuss 3 Letters
Needless Fuss 3 Letters – WHEN I got to know him a little better and appreciated his own creative wealth at its true value, I took the liberty of arranging the letters of his name to read, Tse-Lio-t, to suggest that underneath was a Chinese Taoist sage. the sober cloak of his Anglo-Catholicism; the change amused him and he did not hesitate. I think he probably felt that, regardless of dogmatic theology, there was an appropriate kind of root relationship between the rarest and most mature experiences in both worldviews—Eastern and Western. His mind was of such breadth and scope that it was possible to elicit from him an unusual range of sympathies for matters far beyond the range of his own personal preoccupations. So I think I knew him pretty well, even though I don’t really know anything about him; I don’t know more than that about his life
He can tell me. The perils of the literary business put him in my way in my early twenties as the publisher of my poems and as one of the most truthful and gentle critics I have ever met.
Needless Fuss 3 Letters
The literary eminence of the Faber & Faber house today always gives the impression that it is much older than it really is; one imagines him as a kind of Murray, devoted to several generations of great publishing and echoed by great names like Byron or Moore. She enjoys such a status despite the fact that she is an extremely young fir; I remember it was founded in the twenties under the name Faber & Gwyer. The point of these remarks is to suggest that much of his present eminence is due to Eliot’s work; to his far-sighted consulting work, which led to the publication of all the best poetic and critical works of the time. No, not all of them; but very nearly.
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If it was a fruitful and rewarding relationship for me, it was entirely due to this caring and gentle man, whose mind had such a fine cutting edge, and who approached his duties with such seriousness and method that in his relations far exceeded. with the young writers of the house. I cannot believe that my experience with the publisher Eliot was any different from that of other poets and writers from the same stable. The real mystery is where on earth he found the time to deal with us in such detail, criticise, comfort and encourage. In my case it can only be explained by the supposition that he was some sort of saint; poor thing, he was dealing with a quarrelsome, combative, self-confident young man — a self-inflated ego that betrayed every sign of insecurity and vanity. There were times when I had to be cut down, and whenever I managed to irritate him too much, he did it with such breathtaking elegance and style that it left me breathless. But always without heat, without vanity, charitable. It was unforgivable! Moreover, his views were backed up by accurate and factual work, incredibly detailed and thoughtful, so that I was torn between indignation at the justice of his comments and shame at having made him waste so much time explaining things so carefully to an intransigent child. he probably assumed I was.
A truly wicked man, for he was seldom wrong, and what was worse, he was never rude or despondent. Fortunately, I have preserved all the letters he wrote to me, in which matters of business are often capped with a witty aside or penetrating judgment, and they make excellent reading today. By them I can judge how formative he was on me, not so much as a writer, but as a kind letter-adviser. The public image of him at the time was that of a rather humorless literary bonza of the Sainte-Becuve type. (We must not forget that during the period I am writing about, he had not yet published his plays and his
Needless to say, he did not fit this literary image at all. When I first met him, I found his gravitas quite intimidating; but as I saw more of it, I realized that the laughter was very close to the surface. It came in sudden little flashes.
Henry Miller, who said he had always thought of Eliot as a “dry-faced Calvinist,” was most surprised and intrigued when I returned to Paris with an account of my first two meetings with him. So much so, in fact, that he began to read it carefully and persuaded me to arrange a meeting with him in London, a meeting that duly took place in a small flat in Notting Hill Gate lent to me by Anais Nin’s husband, Hugh Guiler, a painter. I think Eliot himself was a little scared to meet the renegade hero
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In the flesh, while Miller was still half-convinced that Eliot would be dressed as a Swiss pastor. In any case, the relief on both sides was very evident and I remember a lot of laughter. They caught on famously; and just now Eliot made one of those moves which showed not only his amiability, but also the unswerving, uncompromising truthfulness which ever since marked for me all that he did and thought. He offered Miller the foreword for his book and me the introductory note for the
This might have compromised his reputation somewhat, for by the standards of the day we were both “tasteless writers” (chosen term), while Eliot’s own great reputation was eminently respectable. But no; He loved books and offered his help without hesitation. He always had this unwavering honesty in his dealings. One small fragment of conversation comes back from this wonderful evening.
Eliot: Of course there is more than one type of pornography; often has nothing to do with four-letter words. Miller: Who do you mean? Eliot [with immense seraphic gravity]: Indeed, Charles Morgan.
“My dear Durrell, I am sorry you found my letter acid; I thought it was absolutely sweet myself. But if you like acid, I’ll see what I can do. . . .” (1937)
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But he was too much of a literary aristocrat not to despise the sitting duck, and even in the most caustic times he remained kind without indulgence. Intellectually, he was not a boxer, but a judo expert.
“Dear Durrell; I read “The Book of the Poet’s Horn” with interest and trepidation. Let me say right away that, for reasons that have nothing to do with its content, I don’t think so
In which my own work is one of the subjects discussed, and on the other hand, to exclude me from that article would not only cripple the article, but in some way have as bad an effect as if I had been left in it. That is, it could give the impression that I liked to publish articles that criticized several of my contemporaries, but left me alone. So, if you post it, I think it better appear elsewhere.
“Now consider the article without the connection to you first. I think you are an admirable example, if the assumptions are acknowledged. But these assumptions are very big, and it would really take a lot of study to figure out exactly what they are, as I’m not sure they’re all fully conscious. But we can use our gut feeling about the conclusions as a test of the validity of the premises. It seems to me that there must be something wrong with the assumptions behind the way of thinking that leads you to dismiss Ezra Pound in a phrase and treat Wyndham Lewis, one of the most prolific living writers, in the same category as – and indeed as slightly less important than – Aldous Huxley, who is one of the deadest. Surely the fact that Lewis writes good English and the fact that Aldous Huxley does not matter?
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“Secondly, as regards this kind of critical activity as a profession in itself, which is the cause of my apprehension [sic]. It seems to me that there is a danger for you as a creative writer in critical work that is particularly concerned with bringing awareness to the activities of your creative mind. If you’ve been busy building theories that had nothing to do with or conflicted with your creative activity, I’d consider this kind of writing a healthy outlet, and a desirable one too, because it brings in a little money. You will doubtless remark that this point of mine is a little insincerely apologetic, to which I will only say that this opinion crossed my mind before it crossed yours. But lately I’ve had to take a couple of Shakespeare classes, not realizing in advance what it’s going to do for me