ELIOT, T.S. The Waste Land. Richmond, Surrey: Printed and Published by Leonard and Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press, 1923.
8o. Original blue mottled boards, printed paper label on cover [Gallup state 1, without priority] (light wear along spine). Provenance: PAUL VALéRY (1871-1945), French poet (presentation inscription).
FIRST ENGLISH EDITION, one of about 460 copies. AN EXTRAORDINARY ASSOCIATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY ELIOT TO THE POET PAUL VALÉRY on the front free endpaper: "au grande poète français Paul Valéry hommages de l'auteur T.S. Eliot I.xi.23." And with the three manuscript corrections on pages 7, 9 and 29 found in most inscribed copies. Gallup notes that these were made by Eliot, while Rhein notes that Woolf made the corrections in some copies (The Handprinted Books of Leonard and Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press, 1917-1932, Ann Arbor, 1985, p.23).
Along with Paul Verlaine and Stéphane Mallarmé, Paul Valéry is considered one of the most important French Symbolist writers, and one of Eliot's own great influences. Hugh Kenner traces their similar aesthetics: "Mallarmé and Valéry and Eliot felt words as part of that echoing intricacy, Language, which permeates our minds and obeys not the laws of things but its own laws, which has an organism's power to mutate and adapt and survive, and exacts obligations from us because no heritage is more precious" (The Pound Era, p.123). Eliot inscribed this copy of The Waste Land several months after he proudly accepted a piece by Valéry for inclusion in his journal Criterion. He wrote Valéry at the time: "The Criterion... is proud to bring out a work of such importance in England... Please accept the sincere tribute of one of your most devoted admirers" (17 August 1923). Eliot was the first to champion many continental writers in England, among them the great French authors whom he most admired: Cocteau, Proust and Valéry. Eliot wrote many studies of Valéry's writing and influence throughout his life, among them his 1948 publication, From Poe to Valéry.
This edition of The Waste Land was particularly important to its publishers, Leonard and Virginia Woolf. Leonard Woolf wrote: "As an amateur printer and also the publisher of what I was printing, I found it impossible not to attend to the sense and usually after setting a line and then seeing it appear again as I took it off the machine, I got terribly irritated by it. But I never tired and still do not tire of those lines which were a new note in poetry... (and sounded with even greater depth and volume in the next work of his which we published), the poem which had the greatest influence upon English poetry, indeed upon English literature, than any other in the 20th century: The Waste Land" (quoted in Rhein, p.22). Rhein notes that despite its earlier appearances, the Hogarth Press edition of The Waste Land was a special event: "Publishing The Waste Land increased the Woolfs' prestige and that of the Press enormously. It also encouraged Eliot, who was still working at Lloyd's bank, to keep writing" (Rhein, p.24). Gallup A6c.