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PN Review 276
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This review is taken from PN Review 268, Volume 49 Number 2, November - December 2022.

Robert Crawford, Eliot After ‘The Waste Land’ (Jonathan Cape) £25 ‘We Should All Calm Down’

If you want the precise configuration of the Porters’ Lodge at Merton College, Robert Crawford is your man: ‘Entering Merton College through its fifteenth-century gatehouse surmounted by relief sculptures of Bishop Walter de Merton, St John the Baptist and other religious figures was like stepping into a monastery. Its hefty wooden gate led through a stone archway past a porter’s lodge where a college servant kept a suspicious watch on all incomers…’ (Young Eliot). But perhaps you are anxious to know about Claremont railroad depot at 6.20 a.m. on Thursday 29 December [1932]: ‘oddly Spanish baroque concrete frontage and cruciform doors made> it look part train station, part church’. T.S. Eliot was met there by Emily Hale, with whom he had been unrequitedly in love since 1914 – in spite of marrying Vivien Haigh-Wood in June 1915. In 1932, Emily’s inclinations were not fully disclosed. But obviously you will first want to know that Claremont’s population ‘numbered under 3,000’ and that the campus grounds of Scripps College were still being developed by the irresistibly named landscape architect Edward Huntsman-Trout.

One of the problems of this biography is length. This second volume, Eliot After ‘The Waste Land’, is 609 pages long and covers the years from 1922 to Eliot’s death in January 1965. Quite long enough, you might think, after reading it. A typical volume of Eliot’s letters covers three years and takes just over a thousand pages, with impeccably informative and unstinting annotation by John Haffenden. That 8,357 page project has reached Volume 9, to the ...


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