ELIOT, T.S. The Waste Land. New York: Boni & Liveright, 1922.
8o. Original black cloth, gilt-lettered on front cover and spine, uncut and unopened (faintest discoloration on endpages); PLAIN GLASSINE INNER WRAPPER; PRINTED DUST JACKET (a few minor short tears along spine joints).
"APRIL IS THE CRUELEST MONTH..."
A MAGNIFICENT COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION, RETAINING BOTH THE PLAIN GLASSINE WRAPPER AND PRINTED DUST JACKET, LIMITED ISSUE, number 467 of 1,000 copies, early issue with the "a" in "mountain" on page 41.
1922 was the annis mirabilis in the Modernist period, seeing the publication of E.E. Cummings's The Enormous Room, Virginia Woolf's Jacob's Room, Gertrude Stein's Geography and Plays, W.B. Yeats's Later Poems and the two undisputed masterpieces of the era, Joyce's Ulysses and Eliot's The Waste Land. Of all these works, perhaps The Waste Land is the most read (with Ulysses perhaps being more often bought than read) and most emblematic of an era. Hugh Kenner notes that, against Pound's A Draft of XXX Cantos, The Waste Land and Ulysses are "easier to get the hang of. Eliot's poem, about the length of two Cantos, offers a tonal unity and moreover notes, and attracted explication after explication. It was about the right size to explicate satisfyingly" (Hugh Kenner, The Pound Era, p.414).
Cyril Connolly's gives arguably the best summation of the work: "Becoming as hard to obtain as 'Prufrock'... Of The Waste Land I will say nothing but that we should read it every April. It is the breviary of post-war disillusion, 'the hope only of empty men', written in Switzerland after a near break-down, pruned of some connecting passages (including a ship-wreck) by Pound, and as Adrienne Monnier wrote to Pelléas, hard to listen to without tears--'si mystérieusement émouvante'. 'Eliot's Waste Land is I think the justification of the modern experiment since 1900' (Pound)" (Connolly, The Modern Movement, p.36).
Pound's influence and work on the poem, as on Prufrock, was so significant that Eliot later commented to John Quinn that the entire Waste Land was written mostly at Lausanne, which is where he'd travelled after first working on the poem and discussing revisions with Pound in December 1921. Eliot's earlier work on the poem seemed unimportant compared to the shape Pound gave the poem (see Humphrey Carpenter, A Serious Character: The Life of Ezra Pound, p.405).
Publication in book form had been arranged with Boni & Liveright, but Eliot also offered the poem to Scofield Thayer for the Dial. After some haggling with Thayer (who initially offered a measly $150.00 for the work), it was agreed that Eliot would receive the annual Dial award of $2,000 for the best contribution in return for its appearance in the magazine. Meanwhile, Eliot launched his own literary journal The Criterion, and he printed The Waste Land in its inaugural issue, virtually simultaneously with the Dial issue. The gesture signalled the end of Eliot and Thayer's friendship. Gallup A6; Hayward 332.