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April 2016 Vol. 53 No. 8

Johns Hopkins University Press

The following review appeared in the April 2016 issue of CHOICE. The review is for your internal use only. Please review our Permission and Reprints Guidelines or email

Language & Literature - English & American

Eliot, T. S. The poems of T. S. Eliot, ed. by Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue. Johns Hopkins, 2015. 2v bibl indexes ISBN 9781421420172, v.1, $44.95; ISBN 9781421420189, v.2, $39.95.

Ricks and McCue teamed their considerable expertise and literary acumen to produce this complete variorum edition of Eliot’s poems, creating an authoritative, scholarly edition that is now the essential print resource.  Volume 1 (Collected and Uncollected Poems) includes Eliot's Collected Poems 1909–1962 as edited and corrected by Eliot, with comprehensive annotations added by Ricks and McCue; previously uncollected poems; Poems Written in Early Youth; Inventions of the March Hare, ed. by Ricks; and a new reading draft of versions of The Waste Land.  Of special interest is “Valerie’s Book," which Eliot wrote out in hand for his second wife.  Volume 2 (Practical Cats and Further Verses) comprises Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats; Eliot’s translation of Saint-John Perse's Anabasis, a collection of poems; and copious annotations followed by scrupulous corrections of publication errors.  Subject to the powerful forces in literary criticism, Eliot has proven to be among the most enduring poets in modern times.  These volumes force a reevaluation of the highs and lows of Eliot’s gifts, one that will supersede earlier, outmoded interpretations of racism, anti-Semitism, and sexual inhibition and avowals of elitist or conservative slants.  The set reflects Valerie Eliot’s promotion of a full view of the writer behind Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats and the pundits of New Criticism.

--L. L. Johnson, Lewis & Clark College

Summing Up: Essential. All readers.