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The Waste Land: Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Draft Hardcover – Special Edition, 8 Nov 1971


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Hardcover, Special Edition, 8 Nov 1971
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Biographical material accompanies reproductions of T. S. Eliot's original manuscript and notes. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Amazon.com: 13 reviews
53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
Waste Land born by "Caesarian Operation", and mystery solved 3 Mar 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Valerie Eliot's publication of her late husband's Waste Land manuscripts affords the reader an opportunity to delve beneath the mysteries surrounding this truly remarkable poem. Hailed as the "greatest poem of the 20th century", a masterpiece which "captured the disillusionment of a generation"; indeed, as the "justification" of Ezra Pound's modernist "experiment", yet referred to by Eliot, himself, as "just a piece of rythmical grumbling", the Waste Land is sure to spark off in any reader a burning desire to know more than Eliot's powerful words can ever themselves explain.
Written primarily during a "rest cure" on "Margate Sands" ("I can connect Nothing with Nothing") and Laussanne, Switzerland; following what Eliot's London doctor diagnosed as a "nervous breakdown", but which the poet refferred to in his letters as an "aboulie", or state of "emotional derangement"; it is little wonder that the poem is not an easy one to come to grips with. In the years following it's publication, countless readers and critics, following the "clues" left by the poet in his now infamous "Notes", have charged off in pursuit of answers and meanings in places they shall never be found. Eliot later explained to his friend, Pound, on whom the poet had bestowed the task (or honour, in this critic's opinion) of editing his original manuscript - that his "Notes" had done little more than lead his readers on a wild goosechase after holy grails and other crazy things which had little bearing on the poem itself. The fact that Pound, the editor, chose, and was permitted by the author, to slash out over half of the original Waste Land fragments in an operation which he described as the "Caesarian Operation" speaks volumes for itself. For it was in this operation that Pound's theories on Vortisism and Imagisme, and Eliot's own theories on poetic "impersonality" and committment to the "Great Tradition" were fused. The result - the final masterwork, the "cult" poem we know today. In the manuscript publication, the missing pieces to Eliot's inticate puzzle are at last to be found .If you are an Eliot fan, or have any interest whatsoever in the Modernist movement, or the inner workings of a creative genius' mind - this book is an absolute MUST !
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
All this crayon... 29 May 2008
By Paul-John Ramos - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
'The Waste Land' is widely viewed as the twentieth century's most important English language poem, so it's no surprise that 'The Waste Land' manuscripts are some of the most fussed-about pieces of artistic construction in modern times. The poem is a short but dizzying string of images that needs every bit of clarification available.

'The Waste Land' manuscripts, which consist of fifty-four leaves, three hotel receipts, and a mailing label, were sold by T. S. Eliot to John Quinn, a New York attorney who served as his agent, in 1923. Quinn died the following year and Eliot's manuscripts were inherited by Julia Quinn Anderson, his sister. Mrs. Anderson died in 1934, after which the manuscripts were put in storage. Her daughter, Mary Anderson Conroy, recovered them and made a final sale in 1958 to the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library, where they currently reside. Eliot never knew about the sale and his estate was not informed until 1968, upon publication of a Quinn biography by Professor B. L. Reid.

'The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Transcript' is largely a collaboration between Valerie Eliot, T. S. Eliot's second wife, and poet Ezra Pound, who is credited with massaging 'The Waste Land' into its published form. Using the original manuscripts, correspondence, and research on literary workings of the poem, Mrs. Eliot and Mr. Pound have done much to elucidate where The Waste Land's ideas originally came from and how its manuscripts created issues over the poem's 'official' appearance.

The book, first published as a large-size hardcover by Harcourt Brace & Company in 1971, gives itself little fanfare and dives right into the poem's lengthy history. Pound chimes in with a short preface that acknowledges Mrs. Eliot's devotion, followed by a twenty-page introduction that charts the events in Eliot's personal and creative lives from 1915 to 1924. Mrs. Eliot bases the introduction primarily on letters written between Eliot, his family, Pound, and Quinn. It is soundly arranged, listing every step towards making 'The Waste Land' a published item.

The manuscript's fifty-four leaves are offered in facsimile, with each page transcripted to its right. The transcriptions reflect any changes or notations made by Eliot, Pound, and Eliot's first wife, Vivienne, who provided feedback intermittently. Pound's corrections are transcripted in red ink, Vivienne Eliot's in black ink with dotted lines. The leaves are arranged in sections corresponding to those of the final poem. Remarkable is how much verse was left on the cutting floor: 'The Burial of the Dead' stems from a long narrative poem, the infamous 'He Do the Police in Different Voices.' Its entire first part, a trite urban episode, went completely unused. The tiny section 'Death by Water' originated from a narrative of sea fishers, running over four hand-written pages.

To clarify ambiguous information such as titles, literary references, and Pound's codified markings, Mrs. Eliot has supplied editorial notes that are located after the facsimiles. The book's remaining pages contain 'The Waste Land' as published by Boni and Liveright in 1922, including Eliot's after-the-fact notes that were used as a critical reference for years, but which Eliot later called 'bogus scholarship.' These notes were originally written by Eliot to point out various sources, but he later expanded them needlessly to fill blank pages resulting from the poem's appearance as a book.

Mrs. Eliot's volume is highly informative and well-organized. It does much to elucidate the poem's inner workings and we learn a great deal about Eliot personally, something that he largely considered taboo. We see clearly how the poem took shape, with much-needed help from Pound and Vivienne Eliot. There are no longer any mysteries about how Eliot could piece together such contradictory material; whatever material did not reach publication gives added meaning to what the public eventually saw.

How literary sources relate to the poem is a different story, however. 'The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Transcript' does nothing to clarify what the poem actually means and, to be fair, Mrs. Eliot did not set out to do this. If a reader wants to find out the significance of Hindu Upanishads or what 'Tristan and Isolde' is about, there are plenty of good references, such as the Norton Critical Edition. 'A Facsimile and Transcipt' bases itself on the writing process, not on literary interpretation.

While a moot point, it's unfortunate that Vivienne Eliot was never consulted about the poem. The first Mrs. Eliot spent her remaining years in a sanatorium (she died in 1947), having been committed for mental problems. A great deal of knowledge about the poem died with her, especially since 'The Waste Land' is discreetly autobiographical. Despite her intimate knowledge of the writer, Valerie Eliot has assembled this book while at a sizeable distance from the poem's origins.

Regardless, 'The Waste Land' is a stunning collage of imagery whose deeper meanings were carried by T. S. Eliot to his grave and, if his beliefs are true, to the world beyond. Certain mysteries surrounding this poem will never be clarified; but this facsimile edition at least offers some hope of uncovering whatever meanings the poem contains. It is essential reading for admirers of Eliot's poetry and a wealth of information for scholars, who should already know about it by now.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Interesting, and Rare for its type, but of limited relevance. 5 May 2009
By A. Ives - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is especially relevant to poets that have been writing for long enough to understand the supreme importance of form and diction (also grammar: idiosyncratic, colloquial, or even proper). What you see in the book is a few things that have been taken out, then pretty soon a text that is nearly identical to the one in print (not to undermine the importance of subtleties). Like I said, limited relevance, but I know of no other books that offer so much of process (collaborative at that). Notable is the original title: "He do the police in different voices" which I happen to like, and is suitable aside from the disparity between Eliot's verse for the ultra-literate and it's origin in street language (technically it is from a Dickens book). I am to the point that I believe the best poems are such because of notable phrasing, subtle rhythmic patterns, music & arresting imagery. Also, as is so blatantly pointed out by example here in The Wasteland, literary allusion is also of strong impact, though nearly by definition is a process of exclusion. A poet must believe in the poem and must write with intent, but that does not mean that the intent or meaning of the poet is left behind in the poem. This is true of the greatest poets, and I think part of what makes them great is focusing on the physicality of the poem, which is what, without a doubt, will be left behind. As for this poem, it is very abstruse to begin with, and this book only makes it's process slightly more transparent. One thing Eliot had to learn was to keep a safe distance from his poetry. This is evident in the little 'checks' of Pound, i.e. the insistence of Pound on the word demotic as opposed to abominable. Here, it can be noted, one type of judgment is replaced for another, demotic perhaps a bit safer. Recall the stanza in Prufrock that starts something like 'No, I am not King Hamlet..." Always thought it was out of place. I think Pound helped Eliot to contain his awkwardness. He became, after a mere 30 pages (?) of poetry (Prufrock, W. L., Ash Wednesday, Hollow Men, etc.) a huge literary presence. All I can say of any relevance is that when you read this, it becomes evident that Eliot had to train his ear for the transcription of what was to become his unmistakable, though I admit, evolving verse. There were things coming out that he had to quiet. And by the time he wrote Four Quartets, he really didn't think much of the Wasteland at all. This is the fate of writers. Case in point 90 year-old Lawrence Ferlinghetti and his present attitude towards A Coney Island of the Mind and other Poems.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
An Indispensable Resource 15 July 2007
By J. Williams - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
For any scholar or serious student of modernism, Valerie Eliot's facsimile edition is a must. The content enables us to reconsider notions of "high modernism," Eliot's seemingly dry approach to life and literature (if anyone trusts such satirical jabs as 'The Sweeniad'), and the relationship between Pound and Eliot--even as it occurs in Pound's own pen on Eliot's manuscript. The several additional voices included in Eliot's original vision, particularly in his intended first stanza of what was to be titled, "He do the Police in Different Voices: Part I," gives contemporary audiences a new take on Eliot's sense of humor and full conception of the modern consciousness.

Not only does the edition provide the original manuscript on the left page (both typed and handwritten), but also a surprisingly useful retyped version on the facing page to make clear what has been written in the margins by Eliot, Pound, or any other editorial hand. These facing-page clarifications are color-coded to clarify who has done the editing (i.e., red for Pound).

If you are fascinated by historical documents, serious about Modernism and the relationships therein, or simply a fan of what has been called the landmark poem of the literary period that arguably still defines our lives today, the Waste Land Facsimile Edition is indispensable.
Insightful 13 Feb 2014
By N. Bagchi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Whether you like the poem or, like me, you like Eliot's work but think that *this* poem is way overrated, this book adds to your understanding and gives insight into how the poem was shaped by multiple people.
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