The Letters of T. S. Eliot, Volume 2: 1923-1925 [NOOK Book]

Overview

Volume One: 1898–1922 presents some 1,400 letters encompassing the years of Eliot's childhood in St. Louis, Missouri, through 1922, by which time the poet had settled in England, married his first wife, and published The Waste Land. Since the first publication of this volume in 1988, many new materials from British and American sources have come to light. More than two hundred of these newly discovered letters are now included, filling crucial gaps in the record and shedding new light on Eliot's activities in ...

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The Letters of T. S. Eliot, Volume 2: 1923-1925

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Overview

Volume One: 1898–1922 presents some 1,400 letters encompassing the years of Eliot's childhood in St. Louis, Missouri, through 1922, by which time the poet had settled in England, married his first wife, and published The Waste Land. Since the first publication of this volume in 1988, many new materials from British and American sources have come to light. More than two hundred of these newly discovered letters are now included, filling crucial gaps in the record and shedding new light on Eliot's activities in London during and after the First World War.

Volume Two: 1923–1925 covers the early years of Eliot's editorship of The Criterion, publication of The Hollow Men, and his developing thought about poetry and poetics. The volume offers 1,400 letters, charting Eliot's journey toward conversion to the Anglican faith, as well as his transformation from banker to publisher and his appointment as director of the new publishing house Faber & Gwyer. The prolific and various correspondence in this volume testifies to Eliot's growing influence as cultural commentator and editor.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Covering a shorter period than Volume One, this second installment spans two years of "crisis and consolidation, of severe domestic collapse and hard-won professional recovery." No longer a striving poet and burgeoning critic, a more mature Eliot undertakes greater responsibilities as editor, publisher, and arbiter. His talents now in great cultural demand, fleeting business communications provide a less linear narrative, but read as a who's who of literature, with Eliot welcoming contributions from Aldous Huxley, E.M. Forster, and D.H. Lawrence after founding The Criterion. This disjointedness, however, stems from an increasingly erratic life where hardship-financial, physical, and emotional-remains a prevalent theme, filtering into even the most formal of exchanges. Following a lengthy diatribe on the publishing industry in a letter to New York lawyer John Quinn, some desperate words are later added in ink: "I am worn out, I cannot go on." Eliot's letters poignantly detail triumph, tragedy, and hard-earned mutual respect-encapsulated in the penultimate letter revealing his elation at receiving a copy of The Great Gatsby, "the first step that American fiction had taken since Henry James." The copy arrived inscribed: "For T.S. Eliot/Greatest of Living Poets/from his enthusiastic/worshipper/F. Scott Fitzgerald."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
New Yorker
[Eliot’s] success is an improbable and amazing story, and the publication, in two volumes, of his correspondence from 1898 to 1925 . . . lets us watch that story as it was unfolding, day by day, from the inside.—Louis Menand, New Yorker

— Louis Menand

The Nation
Weirdly gripping . . . one never knows when one might be stopped dead by a letter of singular importance.—James Longenbach, The Nation

— James Longenbach

Wall Street Journal
Better than any biography could, these letters capture the unremitting nature of Eliot's anxieties, without which he would not have written his greatest poems.—Abigail Deutsch, Wall Street Journal

— Abigail Deutsch

New York Times Book Review
These letters do reveal the anxieties boiled down into ‘The Waste Land.’ They also show us the graces this browbeaten life possessed.—William Logan, New York Times Book Review

— William Logan

Buffalo News
[Of] inestimable value . . . long-awaited [and] definitive.—Jeff Simon, Buffalo News

— Jeff Simon

Weekly Standard
In these adroitly annotated volumes, the poet’s conquest of literary London is brought brilliantly to life.—Edward Short, Weekly Standard

— Edward Short

San Francisco Chronicle
These two absorbing volumes . . . will fascinate every lover of literature, not just poetry.—Benjamin Ivry, San Francisco Chronicle

— Benjamin Ivry

Choice
New, detailed literary history of Eliot and his age. . . . Essential.—L. L. Johnson, Choice

— L. L. Johnson

Commonweal
This new volume of letters shows Eliot going through tumultuous challenges and hardships. The letters strengthen our sense of the poetry’s authenticity.—Christopher J. Knight, Commonweal

— Christopher J. Knight

The New York Review of Books
These chunky tomes of his correspondence allow us to follow day by day, drop by harrowing drop, Eliot’s ‘rudely forced’ metamorphosis into the poet of hysteria whose sufferings enabled him, like Dostoevsky, to find ‘the entrance to a genuine and personal universe.’—Mark Ford, New York Review of Books

— Mark Ford

Anthony Brandt
“[A] vast treasure house . . . Eliot's letters are like what he once called poetry itself: the highest form of entertainment.”—Anthony Brandt
New Yorker - Louis Menand
“[Eliot’s] success is an improbable and amazing story, and the publication, in two volumes, of his correspondence from 1898 to 1925 . . . lets us watch that story as it was unfolding, day by day, from the inside.”—Louis Menand, New Yorker
The Nation - James Longenbach
“Weirdly gripping . . . one never knows when one might be stopped dead by a letter of singular importance.”—James Longenbach, The Nation
Wall Street Journal - Abigail Deutsch
“Better than any biography could, these letters capture the unremitting nature of Eliot's anxieties, without which he would not have written his greatest poems.”—Abigail Deutsch, Wall Street Journal
Publishers Weekley
“Read[s] as a who's who of literature . . . Eliot's letters poignantly detail triumph, tragedy, and hard-earned mutual respect.”—Publishers Weekly
New York Times Book Review - William Logan
“These letters do reveal the anxieties boiled down into ‘The Waste Land.’ They also show us the graces this browbeaten life possessed.”—William Logan, New York Times Book Review
Buffalo News - Jeff Simon
“[Of] inestimable value . . . long-awaited [and] definitive.”—Jeff Simon, Buffalo News
Weekly Standard - Edward Short
“In these adroitly annotated volumes, the poet’s conquest of literary London is brought brilliantly to life.”—Edward Short, Weekly Standard
San Francisco Chronicle - Benjamin Ivry
“These two absorbing volumes . . . will fascinate every lover of literature, not just poetry.”—Benjamin Ivry, San Francisco Chronicle
Choice - L. L. Johnson
“New, detailed literary history of Eliot and his age. . . . Essential.”—L. L. Johnson, Choice
Commonweal - Christopher J. Knight
“This new volume of letters shows Eliot going through tumultuous challenges and hardships. The letters strengthen our sense of the poetry’s authenticity.”—Christopher J. Knight, Commonweal
The New York Review of Books - Mark Ford

“These chunky tomes of his correspondence allow us to follow day by day, drop by harrowing drop, Eliot’s ‘rudely forced’ metamorphosis into the poet of hysteria whose sufferings enabled him, like Dostoevsky, to find ‘the entrance to a genuine and personal universe.’”—Mark Ford, New York Review of Books
The New York Review of Books - Mark Ford
“These chunky tomes of his correspondence allow us to follow day by day, drop by harrowing drop, Eliot’s ‘rudely forced’ metamorphosis into the poet of hysteria whose sufferings enabled him, like Dostoevsky, to find ‘the entrance to a genuine and personal universe.’”—Mark Ford, New York Review of Books
Library Journal
The letters, most written by Eliot but some written to him and some between related third parties, cover the first half of his life and provide rare insight into this important figure who shaped modernist literature and criticism. Eliot's intellectual ambition and humor are clear even in his St. Louis childhood, during which he studied the classics and several foreign languages. The correspondence narrates his move to England, his shifting religious views, and his famously problematic first marriage, and contains drafts of poems that cannot be found elsewhere. The letters also chart the evolution of his relationships with other authors, notably Ezra Pound, to whom he dedicated The Wasteland. The first volume was originally published in 1988. The second volume, receiving U.S. publication for the first time after its UK publication in 2009, is an impressive piece of scholarship 13 years in the making, again edited by Valerie Eliot, the poet's widow and literary executor, and Haughton (English, Univ. of York; The Poetry of Derek Mahon). VERDICT With extensive annotations placing each letter in context, and with 200 additional letters in the revised first volume, these are important additions to any academic or research library.—Kate Gray, New York
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300178180
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 9/20/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 18 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Valerie Eliot, née Esmé Valerie Fletcher, is the widow and literary executor of the Nobel Prize–winning poet T. S. Eliot. She became Eliot's second wife in 1957, and their marriage continued until his death in 1965. In addition to editing the first two volumes of the poet's letters, she has edited T. S. Eliot: The Waste Land, a Facsimile & Transcript of the Original Drafts. She lives in London. Hugh Haughton is professor of English at the University of York, and author of The Poetry of Derek Mahon.

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Read an Excerpt

THE LETTERS OF T. S. ELIOT


Yale UNIVERSITY PRESS

Copyright © 2011 Yale University Press
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-300-17818-0


Chapter One

1898

TO His Father

MS Houghton

Thurs. 23–24 June 1898

Gloucester [Massachusetts]

Dear Papa,

It is very cool here when we get up – that is, indoors, outdoors it is just right. We have no sunflowers, there were two in the rosebed, and Marion weeded them up. I found the things in the upper tray of my trunk all knocked about. A microscope was broken and a box of butterflies and a spider.

Charlotte and I hunt for birds. She found a empty nest yesterday (23d). Marion, Margret (?) & Henry are going to Class-day.

Yours Truly, Tom.

1904–1910

TO Charlotte Eliot Smith

MS Houghton

August [1904]

Oliver's Corner [Province of Quebec, Canada]

Dear Charlotte,

    Hoping you are better,
    At least enough to read my letter,
    Which I have twisted into rhyme
    To amuse you, I have taken time
    To tell you of the happenings
    Swimming, rowing, other things
    With which I have the time been killing.
    Wednesday morning, weather willing,
    We after breakfast took a start,
    Four of us, in a two horse cart
    Together with a little luncheon,
    Including things quite good to munch on,
    To climb a mountain, quite a feat,
    3000 ft., and in the heat.
    To make a lengthy story short,
    We did not take the path we ought,
    And though we exerted all our powers,
    It took us all of two three long hours
    To reach the top, when, what a view,
    Mount Washington, and Montreal too!
    We took one hour down the road,
    Then two hours more to our abode.
    I suppose now I should desist,
    For I am needed to assist
    In making a raft.
    The family sends
    To you their love and complimen's.
    I must not close without once more a
    Health to you and Theodora.

I am afraid this letter will not please you but I hope you will excuse your brother

Tom.

Charlotte C. Eliot TO the Head Master of Milton Academy

MS Milton Academy

27 March 1905

2635 Locust St, St Louis

My dear Mr Cobb,

I write to ask whether at Milton Academy you will take a boy who has passed his finals for Harvard. My son is sixteen years of age and will be seventeen the 26th of September. As a scholar his rank is high, but he has been growing rapidly, and for the sake of his physical well being we have felt that it might be better for him to wait a year before entering on his college career. If you have any provision for such cases, and can keep him employed without his going over the same ground, please let me know, and oblige

Yours very truly, Charlotte C. Eliot Mrs Henry W. Eliot

Tom passed his preliminaries with credits in two studies. Took Latin prize last year at Smith Academy.

4 April 1905

2635 Locust St, St Louis

My dear Mr Cobb,

Your letter was received yesterday, and I enclose today a list of studies taken here which my son has prepared. He and I have examined the catalogue you sent, and Tom thinks he could make out a course partly scientific, and then there are elective studies like 'Advanced History, English and American'. Then he has had but two years of German, one with a poor teacher, and could resume that study, and drop French, in which he needs principally conversation. I should think he could drop Latin and Greek this year. He took the Latin prize last year at Smith Academy. His teacher informs him that in the Harvard preliminaries he received credit in French and English. He has always been a student, and read extensively in English literature, especially Shakespeare. He has read practically all of Shakespeare, whom he admires, and retains much in memory.

It is now partly in deference to his own wishes that we consider sending him to Milton. A friend suggests that he will be lonely there, because most of the boys have been there some years. I hope not, for although quiet and very dignified he is a most friendly boy, of sweet nature, and every inch a gentleman, withal very modest and unassuming, yet very self-reliant too.

We have lived twenty-five years on the old Eliot place, while all our friends have moved out, and Tom desires companionship of which he has been thus deprived. I talk with him as I would with a man, which perhaps is not so good for him as if he had young people about him.

If you think that Tom can make out a course, and you advise and are willing to take him, I should like a decision very soon, as otherwise his room must be engaged for Harvard. He has been a faithful student and we are willing to have him wander a little from beaten paths this year and take a somewhat miscellaneous course.

His teacher here says he can enter Harvard next year without repeating his examinations. I will write to Mr Hart and inquire.

I have gone somewhat into detail to assist you in making an early decision, as the number admitted into your school is limited, I judge, and I should like a place reserved in one of the cottages of the upper school.

Yours very truly Charlotte C. Eliot Mrs Henry W. Eliot

[In TSE's hand:]

I passed in June 1904, for Harvard:

4 Elementary English (a)
2 " French
4 " Latin
4 " Greek
2 " Algebra
2 Plane Geometry.
–
18 points.

I shall take in June, 1905:

2 Advanced Greek
2 " Latin
2 " French
4 " English (b)
2 ElementaryPhysics
2 " History (Greek and Roman)
–
14 points

Total 32 points.
German
History
Trig. and Phys.
Chem.

English: Hill's Principles of Rhetoric. Pancoast's Introduction to English Literature. Reading: Othello, Golden Treasury, Macbeth, Burke's Speech on Conciliation [with America, 1775], Milton's Minor Poems, Macaulay's 'Milton' and 'Addison'. Themes. Elocution.

Latin: Virgil's Aeneid, Books 3–12. I read Books I–II last year. Ovid 2000 lines. Cicero, Milo. Grammar. Composition based on Caesar.

Greek: I read Xenophon's Anabasis Books I–IV, with Hellenica at sight last year. Iliad I–III. Also Books IV–VI, VII and XVIII at sight. Odyssey selections. Xenophon at sight. Prose composition.

French: Fraser and Squairs' Grammar. Stone's Grammaire Française. Résumés in French of the authors read. Reading: Horace, Corneille; Le Misanthrope, Molière; Andromaque, Racine; Zadig and other tales, Voltaire; Hernani, Les Misérables, Hugo; La Mare au Diable, La Petite Fadette, Sand; Five Tales of Balzac; Mademoiselle de la Seiglière, Sandeau; Athalie, Racine; and others. Memorizing poetry.

History: Myers' History of Greece and History of Rome.

Physics: Wentworth and Hill's Principles of Physics. Forty experiments.

Thomas S. Eliot

7 April 1905

St Louis

My dear Mr Cobb,

I do not know whether in my last note I made it sufficiently explicit, that if after reading my letter and looking over my son's schedule, you approve of his entering Milton Academy, I desire to make formal application for his admission into one of the Upper School dormitory buildings.

Yours very truly Charlotte C. Eliot

22 July 1905

Eastern Point, Gloucester

My dear Mr Cobb,

Your letter has just been forwarded to me from Saint Louis, which has caused delay in answering. My son's marks were 'B' in History, and 'C' in everything else except Physics, in which he was conditioned, receiving 'E'. This result was not unexpected, as he had in the latter study a poor teacher, who finally broke down with nervous prostration.

He would still greatly prefer to attend Milton Academy – I was, however, so discouraged by your last letter that I took steps to hire rooms at Cambridge. If Mr Eliot approves, however, I will see what steps can be taken to dispose of these (they are in a private house on Mt Auburn Street), provided you are still willing to take him on his 'one condition'. He had intended to take German this year, which is on your programme.

How early is it necessary for you to know results of my Cambridge inquiries regarding disposal of rooms?

Yours sincerely, Charlotte C. Eliot

You are probably out of the city, but I address this to Milton.

23 July 1905

Eastern Point, Gloucester

My dear Mr Cobb,

I write a line to say that if you are still in Boston or Milton, my son and I will make an appointment to call on and confer with you. I want to be sure he can go to Milton Academy, before taking active steps to dispose of his rooms.

I greatly prefer to have him a year at a Preparatory School, rather than to enter college this year. I am officially informed that his certificate of admission will hold good next year, making up physics.

Yours sincerely Charlotte C. Eliot Mrs Henry W. Eliot

26 July 1905

Eastern Point, Gloucester

My dear Mr Cobb,

I have just learned from your secretary that you are out of town, but will return on the 1st of August. As soon thereafter as is convenient to you, Tom and I will visit Milton Academy, and confer with you. Mr Eliot writes that he approves of his going to Milton rather than Harvard this year, and thinks it will do him good. As soon as I have perfected arrangements with you, I will close matters at Cambridge.

Tom's certificate will admit him to college next year with only an examination in Physics, and any extra study will be a gain.

We should be happy to have you spend the day with us at Eastern Point, if you care for a fine view.

Yours sincerely, Charlotte C. Eliot

28 August 1905 Eastern Point, Gloucester

My dear Mr Cobb,

I have been considering with my son-in-law, Mr Alfred Dwight Sheffield, who has had considerable experience in past years in a Preparatory School, the best course of study for Tom to pursue at Milton Academy this coming year. Mr Sheffield thinks, and I agree with him, that it is better to take studies other than those in which he has passed his examinations. This would exclude Latin, Greek and French, and perhaps English. Attendance at these courses would mean the reading again a second time much that he has already been over. This, Mr Sheffield believes, would induce a mental ennui. It certainly would not act as a stimulus.

Among the elective studies is Advanced History, upon which Tom could spend considerable time. Is this course always included in the curriculum, however small the number of students desiring to take it?

There are reasons why it would be better for Tom to take Chemistry at Milton than at Harvard. It would be more interesting and less technical and abstruse. Would it conflict with his Physics?

Physiography Tom does not care for, and I do not consider it worth while for a boy who reads and easily acquires general information.

As to the German, Tom is going through with Mr Bierwirth's Thirty Lessons, and recalls much more than I expected – he could easily enter the Third Class were it desirable. German is still an open question. Mr Sheffield, who is, I think, known to you, has offered to go to Milton on Saturday for an interview concerning Tom's studies, but I am loath to accept his kind offer as it would shorten his stay here by a day. I should like however, in any case, to visit Milton again and ascertain more definitely what programme of studies can be arranged without conflict; all that I have written is merely preliminary to a final interview.

I should like to ask two practical questions. I desire to know whether a student is allowed to keep his trunk in his room, and if so, should it be of such a height that it can be kept under the bed? Also does an advanced pupil require a 'swallow tail' evening suit for any occasion, or are tuxedo suits worn? I inquire because my son has not yet attained his full growth.

Please let me know how long before the opening of the fall term it will be best for me again to confer briefly with you.

Very sincerely, Charlotte C. Eliot

17 September 1905

[Eastern Point]

My dear Mr Cobb,

I have purchased Tom a low steamer trunk, and should like very much to have him able to keep it under his bed in his room, unless it is an infringement of rules to which Mrs Chase would object. As there are no closets in the rooms, I think clothes not in immediate use can be best kept from dust etc. in a trunk.

You need not answer this note except to Tom personally.

With kind regards to Mrs Cobb,

Sincerely yours, C. C. Eliot

[end September 1905]

Hotel Bellevue, Beacon St, Boston

My dear Mr Cobb,

I thought perhaps I had better explain to you just why Tom could not participate in football and other such strenuous sports, involving risk of strain. He has had a case of congenital rupture which, our physician thinks, is superficially healed, but as the abdominal muscles there are weak, care must still be exercised. He participated in the gymnasium training at Smith Academy. I think, however, it would be well for your instructor to know exactly Tom's physical condition, and presume he examines each new pupil.

Tom has never fully realized until now, when he is almost the only fellow debarred from football, his physical limitations. We hope in a few years he will be entirely normal, but his rapid growth has rendered him less rugged, perhaps, although perfectly healthy. I hope he will soon be over his cold.

I know Tom will be particular about observing all rules.

With kind regards to yourself and Mrs Cobb,

Yours sincerely, Charlotte C. Eliot

Should Tom ever be ill, which I do not apprehend, I should like to be informed by telegraph.

20 May 1906

2635 Locust St [St Louis]

My dear Mr Cobb,

Tom has written home requesting permission to swim in a quarry pond near the Academy. As this authority from parents is a new requirement, it conveys the impression that there is an element of danger, and Mr Eliot and I would like to know the conditions. We both have a prejudice against quarry ponds, partly because Mr Eliot's sister was drowned in one, and also because every year the quarry ponds about the city prove fatal to boys bathing in or skating on them. This is partly due to the deep holes in the bottom rock. I suppose Milton boys never attempt diving in one. Mr Eliot says if the pond is stagnant, fed by rains, there is danger of typhoid. If fed by springs, the cold currents must be carefully avoided. Do boys use their own judgement as to the length of time to remain in the water?

A boy may be very careful himself, but the peril of a comrade endangers his rescuers. I have seen quarry ponds surrounded by steep rock that looked dangerous.

Although sorry to trouble you, we do not feel ready to accord Tom the required permission until we are better acquainted with conditions.

Very cordially yours C. C. Eliot

FROM H. W. Eliot to E. H. Wells

MS Harvard

7 December 1906

The Hydraulic-Press Brick Company, Missouri Trust Building, St Louis

Dear Sir,

I thank you for your letter of the 4th containing information which I already had received from my son, who is sufficiently concerned therefore. He did not know that English did not count. I am inclined to think that he has been permitted (with the assistance of his College advisors) to take courses all of which are difficult and require much outside reading. I do not know if this can be remedied. When he comes home for the holidays I will discuss it with him.

Yours truly, H. W. Eliot

TO His Mother

PC Houghton

Tuesday [1909]

Port Clyde, Maine

My dear Mother

We have had very light and very warm weather: pleasant and lazy. This is only about twenty-five miles from North Haven.

Your aff. Son Tom

FROM His Mother

MS Houghton

3 April 1910

4446 Westminster Place, [St Louis]

My dear Boy,

I was very glad indeed to receive your last letter, and pleased with the success of your lecture. I am so much interested in every detail of your life, my only regret being that you have not time to write more fully. You have not yet told me your marks in the two remaining courses. Surely you must know by this time. I enclose a postal on which I hope you will write and mail.

I hope in your literary work you will receive early the recognition I strove for and failed. I should so have loved a college course, but was obliged to teach before I was nineteen. I graduated with high rank, 'a young lady of unusual brilliancy as a scholar' my old yellow testimonial says, but when I was set to teaching young children, my Trigonometry and Astronomy counted for naught, and I made a dead failure.

Shef wrote early in the fall, that he thought before the end of the collegiate year your ideas would crystallize and you would know better the best direction for your literary activity. I have rather hoped you would not specialize later on French literature. I suppose you will know better in June what you want to do next year. And you will have the literary judgment of able advisers probably. I cannot bear to think of your being alone in Paris, the very words give me a chill. English speaking countries seem so different from foreign. I do not admire the French nation, and have less confidence in individuals of that race than in English. I suppose I am not enough of a scholar to know what is termed the 'particular genius' of any people. I will enclose Henry's last letter, as you say you have not heard from him for so long. I wish you could live nearer together. But New

York is more likely to be your destiny than Chicago. You must be sure and secure tickets when the time comes for Father and me to hear your Ode. Is it on Class Day, at Sanders? You know Henry had no tickets. Having a part may enable you to secure them. I am glad you know the Littles so well. They must be a fine family. Ed was one of the nicest of Henry's friends. Poor fellow! he was very pathetic in his enfeebled condition.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from THE LETTERS OF T. S. ELIOT Copyright © 2011 by Yale University Press. Excerpted by permission of Yale UNIVERSITY PRESS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

List of Illustrations....................ix
Acknowledgements....................xiii
Introduction....................xvii
Preface to the Revised Edition....................xxi
Biographical Commentary 1888–1922....................xxiii
Abbreviations and Sources....................xxxi
Editorial Notes....................xxxv
Glossary of Names....................817
Index of Correspondents and Recipients....................839
General Index....................843
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