How Virginia Woolf Shunned—and Then Embraced—T.S. Eliot ‹ Literary Hub

Virginia Woolf is the most famous of the four English women who entertained Thomas Stearns Eliot. Her main reason to meet Eliot, supported by her husband Leonard Woolf, was the result of the book Egoist of his first book of poetry. Prufrock and other observers. Clive Bell took ten copies to Garsington, where Katherine Mansfield read “Prufrock” aloud. Mansfield, a stranger, is better than most of Eliot’s indifference, with his side-steps and slow speech.

When “Prufrock” came Leonard Woolf’s way, the poem was seen as saying something no one else had said before, and as rare as it fell out of place. line under “heights.”

Leonard and Virginia Woolf bought a small printing press, planning to print books as a hobby. The machine stood on a table and could only print one page at a time, and the Hogarth Press was the first edition of their own. Two stories in 1917. They followed this with Katherine Mansfield’s Prelude, a wonderfully moving depiction of family scenes from his native New Zealand, seen through the emotional intelligence of a child. In September and October 1918, the Woolfs approached “Mary’s friend,” Eliot, about publishing some of her poems.

He was invited to dinner at their home, Hogarth House in Richmond, on November 15, where he read three or four of his sketches of men: ” Sweeney Among the Nightingales,” “The Hippopotamus” and “Mr. Eliot’s Sunday Morning Service. The Woolfs adopted these and several other poems for a small collection, the third edition of which Hogarth Press (including Virginia Woolf’s novel, Kew Gardens).

The Woolfs will self-publish and cover the book with one of Roger Fry’s clever papers. Being adopted by Virginia Woolf was a victory for Eliot, who showed her family that she stood as her father’s daughter. Sir Leslie Stephen became a leader in Victorian literature and the sole president of the London Library. It meant the acceptance of London’s literary elite.

Being adopted by Virginia Woolf was a triumph for Eliot…

At first, Virginia Woolf was as shy as Lady Ottoline by Eliot’s words: slow, with each word given a special ending. He couldn’t understand what she was saying. Perhaps the problem is that he tries to get every word out of his American accent, but he finds it pedantic—what his publisher calls “scholarly” (not a compliment). Woolf saw intolerance “under the surface.” Then he was freed by his loyalty to Wyndham Lewis, Joyce and Pound, whose brand of unconventionality was too explosive for Bloomsbury, which inspired nuance and light and comic print. Why is Mr. Eliot was “stuck in that dust,” Virginia Woolf asked herself, referring to him as “Mr. Eliot,” calling him “Eliot” to his friends. , not now “Tom.” Meanwhile, he made fun of Eliot’s English.

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Although accepted by the Hogarth Press, by the end of 1918, Eliot was weak and depressed after contracting cancer, but still did not believe he could fulfill his gift. His most recent poems, the solid quatrains, were composed under the watchful eye of Pound, who demanded the most rigorous argument, beginning with invective. Vivienne recommended this surgery. It’s not that Eliot can’t hit his targets with dead words, but he’s writing against the grain. He is an explorer, not an interpreter. Naturally, he was skeptical, and his efforts were to improve.

Eliot’s Anglicization seems to have fixed his features as an immovable mask. “I have the habit of a different group and it is difficult to find common words to describe the difference,” said Professor Woods at Harvard. Conrad Aiken saw a change in him when he went to England after the war, a sense of his self-isolation. Because Eliot wanted to enter his native England. Although he was forced to meet this old friend every now and then, he dismissed Aiken as “stupid.”

Eliot’s campaign Songs did not go smoothly. The Woolfs finished printing in March 1919 and Eliot provided them with a requested list of potential buyers. At that time, unaccustomed to defamatory speech at Bloomsbury, he accepted without warning Mary Hutchinson’s jealous criticism of Virginia Woolf. Clive Bell soon gave this delightful piece to Woolf himself, who took it upon himself to set the scene for Eliot’s book. A long silence followed, and Eliot was dismayed to discover that none of his contacts had received copies.

This time Vivienne developed paranoia. She tells her husband that the Woolfs are taking revenge by throwing away her book.

The truth came out: whatever they thought about its smallness, the Woolfs lost Eliot’s list. He gave it another go and worked hard to please Virginia Woolf. The two were invited to a weekend at Garsington, where guests watched. Eliot went out of his way to praise Virginia Woolf to his friends and rejected Jack Hutchinson’s attempt to vilify her. Virginia then invites the Eliots to lunch (including Bloomsbury publishers Marjorie Strachey, Lytton’s powerful sister, and Walter Lamb), joking in her diary that she finds Eliot to be ” even though he doesn’t like me anymore.” His wife he nailed as a washed up little woman. Vivienne, threateningly, does not shine in the company of Virginia Woolf, as she does with Mary and Lady Ottoline.

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In a way [Eliot] no doubt, and his great works, he became a good thing.

Songs It came out on May 12th. There was a negative review in the TLSwhile Virginia Woolf Kew Gardenspublished on the same day, it was an unexpected success with orders pouring in, requiring a second printing of a thousand copies.

There may be more to this. The Woolfs, who took over “Prufrock,” were not too happy to meet Eliot in person. That fact is not in question. But what if Leonard Woolf (whose story “Three Jews” shows his serious attitude to Judaism), was not satisfied with Eliot’s picture of Rachel née Rabinowitz as a lowly thief with “paws murder” in a poem that Eliot considered his best. and the most important thing he did? When asked later in life, Leonard Woolf answered bluntly that Eliot did not consider himself antisemitic.

But his 1919 letters to the poet were brief. It’s cold. The plan was gradually changed: the Hogarth Press had originally intended an edition of four hundred. Leonard Woolf, who created the machine, only printed one hundred and ninety copies. When all this was sold, when the production costs were deducted, Eliot earned £3 and a pence.

Time passed and Virginia Woolf’s interest in Eliot grew. When he came to eat a year later, he signaled the “control” to him: “I mean the expression of the face when he argues!” He came to see himself as Eliot in his reservations and subterfuges. He is an explorer of an inner life defined by “moments of being,” as climactic as Eliot’s “moments of indifference.” Both of them, as experimental Modernists, rejected the nineteenth-century myth of going from tea to dinner. And both sides are unspoken. For all that, they didn’t discuss the work, not the way Virginia Woolf sifts through “our rich work” with Katherine Mansfield.

[Woolf] He came to see himself as Eliot in his reservations and subterfuges.

Where Virginia Woolf was generous—the setting for Eliot’s books, inviting her for tea and weekends—Eliot was slow to praise her writing. He admits that it is “amazingly beautiful” in his speech, carefully arranged by the “endless effort of arrangement.” Toil is a classic misogynist work: women create diversity with the spontaneity of true genius.

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Sometimes, in his excitement, he admires an early record, “String Quartet;” but once, in September 1920, when Eliot spent a week with the Woolfs at Monk’s house in Sussex and confronted him without reading it, his Answer: Although he never read fiction outside of graphic novels, he said he read more than he thought.

He saw her young hazel eyes seem to escape from her chiseled, hollow, upper lipless eyes.

Although Woolf prided herself on not being “downgraded,” the water rose a notch or two when she said, “Eliot has abandoned my claims as a writer.” He thought, “if I had been gentle, I think I would have gone down.” As a result, after realizing it himself, he stopped writing his book. Jacob’s office. His visit had “clouded the shadow,” he had left him “unsullied.”

Separately, Eliot told Pound that “there is no woman fit to print.” His favorite was Katherine Mansfield, a rival and predecessor at the Hogarth Press, but he also despised Virginia Woolf. This is clear in a letter to Emily Hale, who read it carefully: “I am not in my heart to admire his work so much as I am sure he would (in real) when respected.”

Woolf was pleased with Eliot’s friendship and willingness to accept his hospitality, something he had not seen himself do in years. Except, in her novel, Vivienne likes him and Ottoline with a knife, thinking of them as Eliot’s mistresses, Virginia Woolf pretends to be destroyed: “although I have not loved by that person it’s hard to give my life on.the floor.

He did not allow anger to overshadow his appreciation of Eliot’s poetry. The more she printed, the more clear she was: she had “spring water in her, cold and pure,” she noted in her diary. She found it comforting to discover her family’s connection to her New England friend Charles Eliot Norton. Leslie Stephen enjoyed her relationship with the New England literati and, when Virginia was born, she asked James Russell Lowell to be her godfather.

Later, Eliot told Emily Hale that she was “very happy with the Woolfs,” and years later, when she spent her last birthday with the Woolfs in Sussex, Virginia said to his diary, “Tom in some ways – with his simplicity and decline. , kind of scary but different from myself”

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Removed from The Hyacinth Girl: TS Eliot’s Hidden Muse by Lyndall Gordon. Copyright © 2022. Available from WW Norton & Company.

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