The Writer Observed

The Writer Observed

The Writer Observed

The Writer Observed

Excerpt

During a period of about four years, my job on the editorial staff of The New York Times Book Review gave precedence for a day or two days of each week to writing an interview with an author. The assignment as a regular thing came about in an unpremeditated way. In 1948--was it as long ago as that?-- rumor held that Mr. T. S. Eliot was going to be given the Nobel Prize for Literature. The press, with a strong Scandinavian sector in the vanguard, was intermittently camped in the vicinity of Mr. Eliot's known haunts at the time--the Institute in Princeton, a friend's house in Princeton, a friend's apartment in New York, a relative's home in Boston. But Old Possum had apparently covered his tracks.

At the height of the Nobel Prize speculation--and it was not shaking the foundations of The New York Times--I met Lester Markel, editor of the Sunday edition of The Times. Quite casually we agreed that the prize was Mr. Eliot's, and next I heard myself saying, "I can get an interview with him if you want me to." I felt no uneasiness when he told me to go ahead. I did go ahead, Mr. Eliot assented (I had left a message with his secretary at the Institute and Mr. Eliot telephoned back that night), and though it wasn't an earth-shaking interview, I think it was amusing; and it was after all the only one he gave . . .

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