“THE MOST IMPORTANT POEM, AS MANY THINK, OF THE CENTURY”: RARE FIRST EDITION IN BOOK FORM OF T.S. ELIOT’S FOUR QUARTETS
ELIOT, T.S. Four Quartets. New York: Harcourt, Brace, (1943). Thin octavo, original black cloth, original dust jacket. Housed in a custom clamshell box.
Rare first edition in book form (preceded only by separately published pamphlets of each poem) of Eliot’s “extraordinary tour de force,” an elaborate and eloquent exploration of religion and philosophy for the modern mind.
A sequence of poems (first published as separate pamphlets) inspired by the natural cycle of four seasons and the ancient tradition of the four primal elements, Eliot’s Four Quartets “brings together the intricacies of modern technique and imagery and the simplicities of traditional lyric measures. In the austere asceticism and confident dogmatism of these poems there is an impressive restatement of Christian belief in terms of contemporary poetic idiom and contemporary speculations about time” (Baugh et al., 1587). Critics on both sides of the Atlantic (the British edition followed in 1944) recognized the work “as an extraordinary tour de force… The sequence is the most elaborately and intricately shaped of all his poetry” (Ackroyd, 269-70). “The most important poem… as many think, of the century” (Connolly 92). First printing, with “first American edition” on copyright page and faulty margins (due to unskilled war-time labor). “The entire impression would have been destroyed except that it was necessary to meet the announced publication date (May 11, 1943) in order to preserve copyright” (Gallup A44a). Only 788 copies were used as advance review copies, with the remainder of the impression destroyed. Sackton A43a. Dust jacket rear panel with lightly penciled circle around price to Murder in the Cathedral.
Book fine; lightest edge-wear, faint soiling, tiny bit of dampstaining to verso of very scarce extremely good dust jacket.