waste land

waste land

The Waste Land, T. S. Eliot. First Edition, 1923. Peter Harrington Rare Books

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The Waste Land, T. S. Eliot. First Edition, 1923. Richmond: Printed and Published by Leonard and Virginia Woolf, Hogarth Press, 1923. This item is now sold. Presented by Adam Douglas, Senior Specialist in Literature at Peter Harrington Rare Books - http://www.peterharrington.co.uk & http://www.peterharringtonbooks.com/ Octavo. Original marbled blue paper boards, white paper title label to front board printed in black. Spine faded as usual and just chipped at head, board edges rubbed, small closed tear to top margin of pp. 33/34 where last gathering somewhat clumsily opened, still an excellent copy. First UK edition in book form, sole impression. Presentation copy, inscribed by the author on the front free endpaper: “To Dr. Roger Vittoz, with the enduring gratitude of the author, T. S. Eliot, Christmas 1923” and with his holograph text corrections in ink on pp. 7, 9, and 29. A remarkable association, arguably second only in importance to the dedication copy inscribed to Pound. Dr Roger Vittoz (1863–1925) ran the private clinic in Lausanne where The Waste Land was principally composed. In summer 1921 Eliot applied for three months' leave from the bank; the reason stated on his staff card was "nervous breakdown". He and his first wife, Vivienne, travelled to the coastal resort of Margate for a period of convalescence (“On Margate sands, I can connect nothing with nothing …”) In November 1921 Eliot decided to go on to Lausanne for treatment by Vittoz, who had been recommended to him by Ottoline Morrell. Meanwhile, Vivienne was to stay at a sanatorium just outside Paris. In Lausanne, Eliot produced a 19-page version of the poem. He returned to London in early January 1922. Pound then made detailed editorial comments and significant cuts to the manuscript before it was first published in the UK, without the author's notes, in the first issue (October 1922) of The Criterion. “It seems appropriate that The Waste Land, a text which ushered in a new modern literature characterized by disjointed narration, fragmented identities, and splintered religious faith, was written by a man in the midst of a nervous breakdown. Having felt ‘very shaky’ for months, T. S. Eliot composed most of the poem while under the care of Dr. Roger Vittoz at a Lausanne, Switzerland, sanitarium in late 1921. Dr. Vittoz' role in the composition history of the text has been studied only vaguely, yet it is comparable to Ezra Pound's famous ‘caesarean Operation’. If Pound was the midwife of the poem …, then Dr. Vittoz was the anesthesiologist on call during the delivery, guiding Eliot through the birthing process and slipping him an epidural when the pain became too great. Vittoz' therapeutic program re-educated Eliot's broken will and enabled him to complete his work. The Waste Land stands as a record of Eliot's sickness and his cure” (Matthew K. Gold, “Therapeutic Possibilities of The Waste Land”, Journal of Modern Literature, v. 23, no. 3/4, summer 2000, pp. 519–33). The most distinctive aspect of Vittoz's method was that he placed his hand on the patient's head while putting him through various mental exercises, convinced that he was able to monitor cerebral vibrations. (He hoped to create a machine that would measure these vibrations, but he died before doing so.) Whatever the scientific implausibility of his theories of cognition, Vittoz was a kind man and Eliot found him reassuring. He wrote that "I like him very much personally, and he inspires me with confidence." Eliot paid careful attention to his therapy and also read his book, annotating passages in it. Gold goes further, and argues that the whole structure of the poem re-enacts the therapeutic arc of Eliot’s successful treatment under Vittoz. “Vittoz wrote that the patient should, ‘several times a day’, repeat ideas of control to himself three times, until he is able to achieve a state of calm (pp. 62, 69). Thus, Eliot's ‘shantih’ becomes ‘shantih shantih shantih’, a repeated attempt to co...