Prof. Wendy Martin’s account of T. S. Eliot’s relationship with Emily Hale (Endpapers, Book Review, March 5) seems to be motivated more by resentment than by scholarly concern for truth. If Eliot was indeed unable to give, sympathize, and control in his personal life, should that somehow discredit his profound influence on subsequent generations of writers? And in fairness to Eliot, how accurately can one second-guess decisions in his personal life based on correspondence? Do the letters necessarily tell everything?
Eliot was genuinely distraught about Vivienne’s breakdown and his decision to marry Valerie Fletcher and not to marry Emily Hale were of a deeply personal nature. Attempts to disparage Eliot on the basis of those events are of questionable origin and dubious value.
I regard the Endpapers as an oasis of sanity in a world that is increasingly flirting with insanity and suicide. Many heartfelt thanks.