My point is not that there is always a requirement to give an opinion. It is, rather, the attitude expressed by a policy (not particular situation or book) of always displacing a more gracious connection. There is a big difference between getting unsolicited books for an opinion or acquaintances who send what they think you should look at and the affectionate gift of a caring and close friend who hopes to give what will be valuable. So I do not see wisdom in lumping all together into a policy of evasion, nor do I see that it means everyone expects a developed opinion. If a student gives me a book they've read and wants me to know about it, I would probably do the same. If a dear friend sends one and hopes it gives me pleasure and affection, I would want to write about it to them, whether or not I shared the reaction: it could be a way to engage in conversation and a returned affection.
And we are all busy. And Eliot's letters varied a great deal depending on whom he wrote to, and in fact he did make distinctions.
I know this will now elicit everything from sniping to astonishment at my continuing failure to admire everything in Eliot (I do not mean by you, Rickard).
> But do you really consider it wisdom?
Yes. I would call it wisdom. A way to make life go better.
> It seems to me a way to be covertly unkind to those who sent a gift.
Eliot was given a gift and thanked the giver. If it was unkind of him
to not mention his opinion of it then it must have been more unkind of
an opinion to be expected. After all, Eliot would have had to read the
book to do it justice and he was busy enough as it was. Besides, if he
wanted to, he could always send his opinion later.
> Dear Rickard,
> I've read it too and also don't remember where. But do you really
> consider it wisdom? It seems to me a way to be covertly unkind to those
> who sent a gift.
>>>> Rickard Parker <[log in to unmask]
> 06/16/09 5:18 PM >>>
>> The OT thread on the phrase and concept "free gift" made me want to look
>> at how Eliot deals with "gifts" and "giving" in his poetry.
> On the subject of gifts here is something that I first send after
> Christmas 2007:
> Now seems a good time to pass along a little bit of Eliot wisdom.
> Eliot said to write a thank you note immediately for every book gotten
> as a gift. That way one avoided having to comment upon its content.
> I wish I remembered where I read this.
> Rick Parker