AFFECTIONATELY, T. S. ELIOT by William Turner & Victor Scherle Levy


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Though Goethe had his Eckermann, idols are rarely well-served by their devotees. William Turner Levy's adulation of T. S. Eliot is no doubt heartfelt and praise may indeed be, as Sir Thomas Browne wrote, ""a debt we owe unto the virtue of others,"" but there is no denying that, for this reviewer at least, this ""story of a friendship: 1947-1965"" unwittingly presents the great modern poet in an extremely unflattering light. Was Eliot in his later years truly as pontifical, prissy, and clerical as the conversations and tastes ascribed to him in these pages would lead one to believe? Since the relationship began just before Eliot received the Nobel Prize and then went on to become an international celebrity and Broadway and West End success (The Cocktail Party, The Confidential Clerk), perhaps he consciously sported a mixture of hauteur and humility, however peculiarly worn, as some sort of protective coloring. If so, that may account for the many pompous remarks: ("". . . 3 young lady who appeared to consider that the fact that she knew a certain Mr. Tyrone Power--who is, I believe, a film actor--entitled her to my acquaintance also"") with which Affectionately, T. S. Eliot is fatally strewn. In general, the poet's comments on religion, art, and politics are quite unexceptional, and remarkably old-fashioned. The book is dedicated to Fannie Hurst, which may mean something.

Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 1968
Publisher: Lippincott