The task of editing and glossing and footnoting has been (since the death of Eliot’s widow, Valerie, in 2012) the indefatigable work of John Haffenden. His pace of production, 7,600 pages in 10 years, is impressive... What is perhaps most striking in all these pages, though, is what is not there. In years that we view as a preface to the great rupture in modern history, hardly a hint registers in Eliot’s correspondence...
There is something of mild-to-moderate interest on every other page but, collectively, I feel about these letters how Eliot felt about Swinburne’s late poems; yes, many of them are good, “But at the same time it is not necessary to read them, in a world crammed with reading-matter.”
He continues: “The best poetry readers don’t want more of the same.” Prove him right. If you really like Eliot, use your £50 to buy the four debut collections of poetry that Faber published last year. You’ll have a better time, and it’s what he would have wanted.
The latest collection of T S Eliot’s letters is wonderfully insightful — but is it a little too exhaustive?... These are themes deep in his work — but there are also letters here about pyjamas, sherry and opening a cheese restaurant... Just too many letters, though? Eliot, who did not want a biography or any letters printed “of any intimacy to anybody”, might have thought so.