TSElliott, The waste Land, first edition

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Lot 623
ELIOT (T.S.)
The Waste Land

Sold for £ 32,400 (US$ 40,504) inc. premium
ELIOT (T.S.)
The Waste Land, first English edition, inscribed by Eliot: "for Geoffrey C. Faber/ from T.S. Eliot/ 27.v.25./ 'siete racommendato il mio tesoro/Nel quale io vivo ancor - '" ["But let my Treasure, where I still live on, live in your memory", Dante, Inferno XV, 119-20], with 3 autograph corrections made in ink by Eliot, and autograph lineation in pencil by Geoffrey Faber, publisher's blue marbled boards with printed label on upper cover, spine and upper part of cover sunned, top section of spine chipped [Gallup A6c], 8vo, Leonard and Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press, 1923

Footnotes

  • T.S. Eliot commits 'The Waste Land', the book by which he 'will yet live on', to his future publisher and colleague, Geoffrey Faber. Geoffrey Faber had met Eliot that spring. On 6 April he recorded in his diary: "At Press all day. Special directors' meeting, in the afternoon, to pass transfer, & decide about Eliot. We did decide finally to back him as editor of a Quarterly review. I am tremendously pleased. I wrote to E. tout de suite. He will now give up his job at Lloyds" (diary in private possession). As their poetry editor, Eliot was of course to be the making of Faber's, without question the most important twentieth century publisher of English poetry; while his position at Faber's was to confirm Eliot as English poetry's most influential figure.

    But this inscription is testimony not just of a business relationship, but of profound friendship. The quotation comes from near the end of Dante's description of the Seventh Circle of Hell, where Brunetto Latini (c.1220-1294), author of the prose Livres dou Tresor and the Tresor or Tesoretto, a poem which influenced the composition of the Comedia, takes his leave of Dante: "But let my Treasure, where I still live on, live in your memory" (translation Michael Palma). In early unpublished versions of 'Little Gidding' Brunetto was to be identified with the "familiar compound ghost" encountered at dawn in the inferno of wartime London ("And I, becoming other and many, cried/ And heard my voice: 'are you here, Ser Brunetto?'", see the typescript given to Geoffrey Faber below). We know of only one other book inscribed by Eliot with Brunetto's farewell, namely the Ovid Press copy of Ara Vos Prec of 1920, given by Eliot to his beloved Emily Hale (formerly in the Goodwin Collection). In Lyndall Gordon's opinion, this choice of quotation "resonates with unstated import": "A man of learning speaks from hell, asking that his book be remembered: 'keep my Treasure, where I yet live on, and I ask no more...' there is no other instance where he addressed these words to a living person. From the pit, as it were, he offered Emily, the minister's daughter, a glimpse of his soul" (T.S. Eliot: An Imperfect Life, 1998 ed., p.205).

    Of this, the first English edition of The Waste Land, approximately 460 copies were printed, set by hand by Virginia Woolf, partly by way of therapy at her husband Leonard's recommendation. This copy bears the label with a border of asterisks (Gallup's first state). The corrections made, as usual in presentation copies, by Eliot are on pp.7 ("over"), 9 ("carven"), 29 ("Cambridge"). The poem was to be next printed, with line-numbers added, as part of Eliot's Poems 1909-1925, published by Faber & Gwyer Ltd, 1925 [i.e. 1926].

Saleroom notices

  • Spine with loss at head rather than chipped as stated
TSElliott, The waste Land, first edition
TSElliott, The waste Land, first edition
ELIOT (T.S.) The Waste Land
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