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The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot first US appearance in The Dial 1922

The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot first US appearance in The Dial 1922


The Waste Land [in] The Dial, November 1922. Volume LXXIII, Number 5

Greenwich, Connecticut: The Dial Publishing Company, Inc., 1922


8vo., dusky pink paper covers lettered in black to both upper and lower, and along spine; pp. [i], ii-xvi, ads; [iii], 474-592, as issued, xvii-xxxii, ads; versos of covers with printed publication details and advertisements, respectively; numerous black and white full-page illustrations throughout, on both matte and glossy paper stocks; tipped-in image of St Severin by Robert Delaunay to face first page, featuring the opening lines of the title poem; a very good, clean copy, pages lightly toned, as ever; previous ownership name to ffep and upper cover; with unfortunate tape reinforcement to head and foot of spine; outer edge of front cover roughly cut; some creasing and wear along the outside of covers, slight rusting to staples and glue residue evident along gutter of front endpaper; internally a very bright example of this scarce item.  


First US appearance of Eliot’s masterpiece, The Waste Land, appearing here in its entirety over 13 pages. Also featured in this publication are W B Yeats, Betrand Russell, Ezra Pound (to whom the poem was in fact dedicated, the appearance of which does not appear in this edition), and two pen-and-ink drawings by Pablo Picasso. 


The poem originally appeared in the UK in Eliot’s October issue of his magazine, The Criterion. Just days later it appeared in The Dial, an American magazine which had, in the 1920s, become an outlet for modernist literature. Eliot had become friendly with Scofield Thayer, editor of the magazine, while at Milton Academy and Harvard College, and had offered the poem to him as early as January, although the deal almost fell through after Eliot was offended at the low offer of just £35. Eventually they reconciled, with the proviso that, in addition to payment, Eliot would be offered the magazine’s second annual prize for outstanding service to letters, and which carried the award of $2000.   


Eliot had been suffering from poor health and had just been diagnosed with a nervous disorder when he began writing The Waste Land, although it was likely a long work in progress - in 1919 he had, in to his mother, referred to: “a long poem I have had on my mind for a long time”. By the autumn of 1921, he had begun to put some of his ideas down on paper during a visit to Margate where, together with his wife, it was intended he would convalesce from his illness. The lines present in the ‘fire sermon’ section refer directly to this time: “On Margate Sands/ I can connect/ Nothing with nothing”. In November, Eliot travelled to Paris, where he completed the first draft of the poem, showing the early version there to Ezra Pound, who was to play a key role in editing the text. 

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