FOUR QUARTETS, THE CULMINATING WORK OF ELIOT'S LATER CAREER
ELIOT, T.S. Four Quartets: Burnt Norton, East Coker, The Dry Salvages, and Little Gidding. London: Faber and Faber, 1940-42. Four pamphlets. Octavo, original green, yellow, blue, and mauve paper wrappers. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. $3500.
First separately published editions of each of Eliot's Four Quartets, in their original paper wrappers.
The four parts of Eliot's celebrated Four Quartets made their first appearances between 1936 and 1942. "Burnt Norton," based upon lines Eliot excised from his verse drama Murder in the Cathedral, was first published in the poet's Collected Poems (1936). Later, Eliot decided that "Burnt Norton" should not stand alone and began composing three additional "quartets," the poems aspiring to the structured, harmonious condition of music. These—"East Coker," "The Dry Salvages," "Little Gidding"—appeared in the journal New English Weekly in 1940, 1941 and 1942 respectively. Faber and Faber then published each separately in pamphlet form to make the first collection of the Four Quartets as a uniform set. Although separately issued and each an individual poem, the Four Quartets as finally realized are parts of a unified work loosely based upon the scheme of the four seasons and the four elements. Named after American or English villages and landscapes, the poems are meditations upon conflict and peace, poetry and philosophy, time and eternity. The first of Eliot's poems to reach a wide public, their celebration of England and Anglicanism was seen as a unifying force in the besieged England of World War Two. "Little Gidding" is the first issue (sewn rather than wire-stitched). "East Coker" is technically the third edition, as usual, but is often referred to as the first as it is the first Faber edition and is preceded only by two extremely rare New English Weekly Supplement printings. Gallup A36c, A37, A39, A42. Owner signatures.
A bit of scattered foxing, mild toning to wrappers edges, two very small ink marks to front panel of Burnt Norton wrapper. An excellent copy.