I sounds as if studying Roth will be like studying Eliot. Now there is a project to publish everything Eliot wrote because, fortunately it is still there. If Roth really destroys his papers, I agree it will be a shame. I also think that having chosen to become a massively public figure, one becomes, inevitably, more responsible to the public. I'm trying to remember a major writer who exacted a promise that his work would be destroyed but then no one would. And that was good.
Does anyone remember who?
Also, on Eliot's marriage to Valerie--by that time he was already 69 (not so old now, but he smoked and drank for many years--and lived through a great deal of stress) and not really well at all. I'm not sure it was happiness alone that largely ended his writing, though no doubt it gave him other things to do than work.
Nancy>>> John Angell Grant <[log in to unmask]>11/13/12 1:34 PM >>>
It's an argument for scholars having access to Philip Roth's letters....
On Tue, Nov 13, 2012 at 10:21 AM, Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>
I agree with you, though I feel much more able to bear up under the loss of Roth than of Eliot. But I think, while you are right about the pain of his marriage, WWI was also a key factor. Many of his letters talk of how difficult it is for everyone, and the combination of his marriage with the War made for what I think was a life-changing view of the world. I'm not sure he would have been ready or able to appreciate Valerie or what that marriage meant when he was young.
>>> John Angell Grant
11/13/12 12:38 PM >>>
Phillip Roth says he will destroy his papers so scholars can't root through them after his death:
It seems a pity Roth is doing this--an act of selfishness and fear--though certainly Roth gets to do what he wants with his papers. The more I re-read and think about Eliot, the more I am sympathetic to the view that the misery of The Wasteland was, in significant part, the misery of his marriage to Vivien, and his problems with women. My understanding is that when Eliot found happiness in his relationship with Valerie, he wrote no more poetry. What kind of poet would Eliot have been with a happy first marriage?
When Eliot's letters to Emily Hale become public, we will understand Eliot better.
I hope Roth reconsiders, but that seems unlikely.