Nancy Gish wrote:
> Dear George,
> You're absolutely right on the history as well as the analysis. Many
> early readers did say that in the initial reviews. As I've noted
> elsewhere, TWL was called "a mad medley," an "unhappy composition," and
> "so much waste paper." People had to learn how to read it, and one of
> the most fundamental sources for decades was the notes--as in Cleanth
> Brooks and Grover Smith. Eliot did direct how he was to be read for a
> very long time.
The notes never helped me, but what did help me was the recording of
Eliot himself reading the poem. I guess that counts as authorial help.
It's been a long time since I read Brooks on the poem. Did he make much
use of the notes beyond the one on what Tiresias sees being the
substance of the poem? That particular note (indirectly perhaps more
than directly) seems to have helped focus a good deal of commentary on
"high modernism." I think it casts an oblique light, for example, on
_Lustra_ and on _Homage to Sextus Propertius_.