I believe I was the one who talked with you about
this quote at the T. S. Eliot conference a couple years ago. I seemed to
remember part of the quote, but not the source. I found my source just
recently, Roger Kimball's book _Experiments Against Reality: The Fate of Culture
in the Postmodern Age_ (Ivan R. Dee, 2000). In his chapter on Eliot,
he includes a quote from Eliot regarding the fact that there are "only two ways
in which a writer can become important" (Eliot's words):
"to write a great deal, and have his writings appear everywhere, or to
write very little. It is a question of temperament. I write very little, and I
should not become more powerful by increasing my output. My reputation in London
is built upon one small volume of verse, and is kept up by printing two or three
more poems in a year. The only thing that matters is that these should be
perfect in their kind, so that each should be an event" (78).
Kimball ascribes the quote to a letter to "a former teacher from Harvard in
1919." I wish I had my Letters at hand (I'm at work), but online, I found
another article by Michael Levenson that references the letter on page 358 of
the first volume. I'm sure the quote will be easy to find on that page.
Thanks for bringing this up again. I feel rotten for not getting back to
you earlier about it. Hopefully the suspense has made us appreciate TSE's words
all the more.
PS -- By the way, how many on the list are planning to attend this year's
conference in England? It was such a pleasure to meet Rick a couple years ago,
and I would love to be able to talk with more of you in
>>> [log in to unmask]
12/29/03 01:34PM >>>
Several years ago one of the list members asked if anone knew
had remarked that where others might write a large number of
poems that he,
Eliot, wrote very few.
I have also seen this somewhere
and thought it might be in Allen Tate's "T.
S. Eliot: The Man and His
Work". I have checked several time without seeing
it. Do you
remember seeing it?
BTW. on page 79 of that book Bonamy Dobree
includes a verse fragment of
TSE's where TSE writes about the man in White
Spats who is one of the people
to whom "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats"
is dedicated to.