“I was neither living nor dead.”
“One must be so careful these days.”
“That corpse you planted last year in your garden, has it begun to sprout?”
“Footsteps shuffled on the stair.”
“What is that noise?”
“Are you alive, or not?”
“bats with baby faces in the violet light”
……………………………………………………..T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land (1922)
The successful Broadway version of Dracula, which opened in 1927, starring Bela Lugosi in his first English-language role, was produced by Horace Liveright, the first book publisher of T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land.”
Unfortunately, Liveright couldn’t pay royalties to Bram Stoker’s widow, Florence Balcombe, due to the poor performance of the publishing side of his business.
Modernist writers were not big sellers.
Liveright orignally made his fortune marrying into International Paper (a marriage that didn’t last due to his philandering and drinking) and he founded Modern Library in 1917, which published cheap imprints of European modernists.
Florence, who out-lived her husband Bram Stoker by 25 years, sued the German makers of Nosferatu (1922) for stealing Bram Stoker’s story, won, and had nearly every copy of the film destroyed.
Liveright struck an unusual deal in publishing Eliot’s scary poem. The negotiations were led by the pointy-bearded Ezra Pound and his influential, modern art collector, lawyer, John Quinn, British spy (and friend of ‘The Beast,’ Aleister Crowley, who also worked for British intelligence against German and Irish interests — have a look at this).
Eliot didn’t like how much his friend Scofield Thayer, who ran The Dial, was going to pay him for “The Waste Land,” so here’s what Pound and Quinn came up with for the grim banker.
Before Pound had even begun editing the poem, The Dial agreed to award Eliot its annual, $2,000 Dial Prize for “The Waste Land.”
The Dial then also agreed to purchase 350 books at a discount from Liveright—who would then use the publicity generated by The Dial Prize to help publicize “The Waste Land” and market the books at full price.
Eliot also published the poem in his magazine, The Criterion, in October 1922. The Dial version came out in the same month, and Liveright’s book a little later in December. Eliot’s earnings from “The Waste Land” in 1922 exceeded his salary at Lloyd’s. Friends Leonard and Virginia Woolf published the poem at their press in 1923.
Bram Stoker was rumored to belong to the Golden Dawn which also housed “the wickedest man in the world,” Aleister Crowley. Bram Stoker, a Protestant Irishman and monarchist, believed Ireland should remain with the British Empire—the greatest vampire of all?
Was it the spirit of FOETRY which hovered over the birth of “The Waste Land…?”