In 1975, a contributor to the short-lived T. S. Eliot Review characterized the state of Eliot scholarship as an incomplete mosaic, with “the primary materials for research […] either in jumbled disarray or missing entirely.” While a glut of memoirs “written by men Eliot assiduously avoided” flooded the literary marketplace, serious scholars lacked the “fundamental research tools” to fill in the gaps in the fragmentary tableau: “No Complete Works of Eliot […] no critical edition of Eliot’s poems (save The Waste Land Facsimile) […] and no Complete Letters of Eliot” had appeared in the decade following the poet's death. Nearly a half century later, richly annotated and comprehensive critical editions of his letters, poetry, and prose have at last permitted scholars to see Eliot whole.
These landmark editions have prompted a renewed appreciation for Eliot as a man of his time, as a discerning critic of both literature and the twentieth century, and as a poet whose art and ideas cross cultural, media, and linguistic barriers. The T. S. Eliot Studies Annual provides a venue for this ongoing critical reassessment of Eliot's life and work, and essays in this volume draw on newly available primary materials to revise longstanding critical narratives, to place Eliot's work in fuller historical contexts, and to ensure his enduring presence in the new modernist studies.
This second volume of the Annual commemorates with special forums two momentous events in modernist studies: the centenary of Eliot's first published collection, Prufrock and Other Observations (1917), and the imminent publication of the final volumes of The Complete Prose of T. S. Eliot: The Critical Edition. The essays collected in these forums illustrate how fresh perspectives and recently available primary materials revitalize Eliot's seminal poetry and most anthologized prose.
I am grateful to the many peer reviewers who generously gave their time to ensure that the essays included in this volume met the highest scholarly benchmark. I am also indebted to the T. S. Eliot Society and to its Board of Directors, who have promoted the Annual and allowed me to reprint bibliographies of Eliot scholarship, which were originally published in Time Present, the Society's newsletter. Laura Coby, a graduate student at the University of Illinois, assisted at every turn in producing this volume: she read and commented on submissions, proofread typescripts and proofs, and oversaw the production process. Thank you, Laura.