T. S. Eliot (Magill's Literary Annual 1985)
Interest in Eliot’s life has become very strong recently, culminating in Michael Hastings’ play Tom and Viv, staged in London in 1984. The play is about Eliot’s first, tragic marriage to Vivien Haigh-Wood; prolonged correspondence about the play was published in the Times Literary Supplement and other British periodicals, debating its demerits and merits. The biography of Peter Ackroyd, too, is a sign of this new interest; perhaps it had to wait for Eliot’s critical doctrine of impersonality—his view that poetry is an “escape from personality” rather than an expression of it—to lose its force. Eliot’s own reticence when he was alive (he died in 1965) also served to hold this interest in check. Eliot left instructions in his will that there should be no official biography, and his estate has consistently refused permission to quote from his unpublished correspondence—this permission was refused to Peter Ackroyd, among others. It is known that still, at the present date, much information is being withheld; for example, some two thousand letters exchanged between Eliot and Emily Hale will not be available until the year 2020. Inevitably, both the public and the critics have come to think that much of Eliot’s fascination lies in his concealments. This attitude has greatly increased in the two decades since Eliot’s death. Part of the interest has been gossipy and perverse, as in Tom and Viv and other biographies of Eliot...
(The entire section is 2165 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1985)
Book World. XIV, December 9, 1984, p. 1.
Library Journal. CIX, November 15, 1984, p. 2145.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. December 2, 1984, p. 1.
The New Republic. CXCI, December 17, 1984, p. 38.
The New York Review of Books. XXXI, December 20, 1984, p. 31.
The New York Times Book Review. LXXXIX, December 20, 1984, p. 9.
Newsweek. CIV, November 26, 1984, p. 110.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXVI, October 5, 1984, p. 77.
Time. CXXIV, December 3, 1984, p. 80.
The Wall Street Journal. CCIV, December 3, 1984, p. 32.
(The entire section is 61 words.)