ELIOT, Thomas Stearns (1888-1965). Series of 74 typed letters signed and two autograph letters signed ('T.S. Eliot', 'T.S.E.', 'Tom') to Rev. Geoffrey Curtis, 24 Russell Square, occasionally Cambridge, Guildford, Cardiganshire and elsewhere, 17 June 1930 - 31 July 1964, one letter including an early carbon typescript draft of his poem 'The Cultivation of Christmas Trees' with one line added in autograph, approximately 92 pages, mostly 4to, typescript, and 5 pages, 8vo, in autograph; with 4 related letters and copies.
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ELIOT, Thomas Stearns (1888-1965). Series of 74 typed letters signed and two autograph letters signed ('T.S. Eliot', 'T.S.E.', 'Tom') to Rev. Geoffrey Curtis, 24 Russell Square, occasionally Cambridge, Guildford, Cardiganshire and elsewhere, 17 June 1930 - 31 July 1964, one letter including an early carbon typescript draft of his poem 'The Cultivation of Christmas Trees' with one line added in autograph, approximately 92 pages, mostly 4to, typescript, and 5 pages, 8vo, in autograph; with 4 related letters and copies.

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ELIOT, Thomas Stearns (1888-1965). Series of 74 typed letters signed and two autograph letters signed ('T.S. Eliot', 'T.S.E.', 'Tom') to Rev. Geoffrey Curtis, 24 Russell Square, occasionally Cambridge, Guildford, Cardiganshire and elsewhere, 17 June 1930 - 31 July 1964, one letter including an early carbon typescript draft of his poem 'The Cultivation of Christmas Trees' with one line added in autograph, approximately 92 pages, mostly 4to, typescript, and 5 pages, 8vo, in autograph; with 4 related letters and copies.

'WHY SHOULD PEOPLE TREAT VERSE AS IF IT WERE A CONUNDRUM WITH AN ANSWER?'. A long and rich correspondence on poetry, language, religion, and living with a 'sense of imminent peril'. Writing to an Anglican priest (and subsequently member of the Community of the Resurrection in Mirfield), Eliot touches frequently on religious matters, whether asking for comments on church-related books submitted to him or reflecting on his own religious beliefs and observations: 'an Anglican of my type is one permanently on the verge of the Roman journey'; 'I sometimes wonder whether I am not being captured by my powerful Calvinist heredity'; 'I am more a believer than most, I think, in the influence which the spirits of others exert through places, both for good and evil, and I know that it is good to be where holiness has been'; a letter in 1946 refers to the 'spiritual practice' which is 'absolutely essential now, to preserve one's sanity in the appalling darkness that gathers round us'. Intimate concerns are alluded to in a characteristically more elliptical manner, with Eliot's separation from his wife Vivien being concealed in the line 'I have been, for private reasons, living in the country' (31 October 1933); but there are a number of discussions of his writing and the conditions conducive to it, including detailed and grateful responses to critiques from Curtis on the church pageant The Rock and on the early poems of the Four Quartets, as well as encouragement to his correspondent in his own literary projects; and the letters offer appealing character sketches, including A.L. Rowse ('very patronising, and one likes it') and Arthur Koestler ('extremely able but I am not sure that he is altogether a safe writer'), as well as flashes of insight into Eliot's broader character and concerns -- the surprised discovery, on retiring from his wartime role as an air raid warden, 'that the mixture of fear and excitement was a kind of drug which I missed', or the admission in 1946 that 'I am sometimes terrified when I consider the chasm between me and my best poetry'.

On 'queerness': 'Compare Lawrence of Arabia: the only kind of queerness England produces is what fits in to the programme of the Evening Standard and a tablet in St Paul's. We need a really ascetic (and from an English point of view, quite useless) order descalzado' (14 February 1936)

On uses of language: 'Don't you think that the metaphysical and the sensitive or parabolical approach, representing different types of mind, have both to be maintained? I should not like to see the "language of metaphysic" wholly abandoned in favour of that of "myth, analogy and parable" in theology, because I think the practical result would be a relaxation of precision in language and a luxuriance of modernism' (5 Sep 1934)

On obscurity in poetry: 'I am pleased that you like the verses. As for obscurity, I like to think that there is a good and a bad kind ... Why should people treat verse as if it were a conundrum with an answer?' (17 June 1930) (76)
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