Friday, June 24, 2016

TS Eliot on hearing oneself, and self-revision

"By the time T. S. Eliot made his first published recording, here at Harvard 80 years ago in 1933, the two poems he chose to record -- "The Hollow Men" and "Gerontion" -- were already 9 and 13 years old, respectively. And incidental, by the time he recorded The Waste Land, the sequence was already well over a decade old. At one of his Harvard readings, Eliot described the experience of reading his own older poems in this way:"

"It's not as if it's written by someone else; that would be comparatively easy. But it seems to have been written by a young person with whom one is intimately and rather embarrassingly associated; and one isn't enough the same person to have the right to tamper with it."

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These comments, with their relation of the Eliot quotation, come from curator Christina Davis, from her introduction of Sir Christopher Ricks before his September 2014 lecture at the Woodberry Poetry Room on the topic of "Eliot’s Auditory Imagination."

About that talk: "Christopher Ricks (author of T.S. Eliot and Prejudice; Decisions and Revisions in T.S. Eliot; and T.S. Eliot: Inventions of the March Hare) explores the editorial pertinence of T.S. Eliot's own recordings, including those created for the Woodberry Poetry Room in 1933 and 1947."

A recording of Ricks' talk, opening with Davis' introduction, can be found online at the Harvard YouTube channel.

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