Friday, June 10, 2011

Eliot on Jones

Meeting of the directors in the Faber and Faber board room in 1944, 'round a table filled with readers' reports and bottles of beer'.  Sir Geoffrey Faber, the chairman and founder of the firm is in the center. T. S. Eliot is on the extreme left.
In his early years at Faber Eliot’s reports on poetry collections are written to tell his colleagues about the types of verse which he considered that the firm should steer clear of.  He was normally very diplomatic, but the feeble verse that a well-known aesthete had submitted received a terse one-line report: ‘I cannot endure this stuff’. One of Eliot’s most perceptive reports is on the manuscript of In Parenthesis, the great work about the First World War by the poet and artist David Jones, dated September 1936.  He does not overstate the importance of the work but draws out the Arthurian and Kiplingesque qualities that he knows will appeal to particular colleagues on the Book Committee. Typically self-deprecatory, he admits his views may not be widely shared: ‘I have not the slightest notion whether what I see in the book is really there, or if it is there, whether it will reach more than a few people’.
-- from "T. S. Eliot and the Faber Book Committee", a post by Faber archivist Robert Brown, over at The Thought Fox. [Also cross-posted to The Wonder Reflex; hat-tip to Don Share for sharing this.]