T. S. Eliot's long poem The Waste Land has often been called the most important poem of the twentieth century.
By turns ironic and sincere, learned and heartbreakingly plain, the poem was immediately recognized as a classic when it was first published in 1922, and its influence has only grown over time. In the words of literary critic Helen Vendler, “The Waste Land reached so far beyond its origins in both life and literature that it revolutionized modern verse.”
Now, Thornwillow Press is proud to publish The Waste Land in a letterpress and hand-bound limited edition.
Allow us to introduce you to THE WASTE LAND, a letterpress printed and hand-bound book . . .
The Waste Land in 2018?
The Waste Land, though written nearly a century ago, is more relevant today than ever. Written in the shadow of the first World War, the poem captures the very essence of the transformed landscape and the radically altered society of the 20th century. President Barack Obama once said that in The Waste Land Eliot faced “what he perceives as a choice between ecstatic chaos and lifeless mechanistic order.” Sound familiar?
In a series of unforgettable fragments—a late-night conversation in a London pub, a casual sexual encounter in a working-class flat, an elegant game of chess between an unhappy husband and wife, a popular song, a proposition at noon on a busy street—The Waste Land echoes a fractured world we recognize. It is, as poet and critic Roz Kaveney said, a “radical text of a wounded culture.”
A new introduction.
We are also lucky to celebrate this poem with an original monograph by Sravani Sen-Das, a scholar of Eliot who, perhaps more than anyone, has experienced the poem’s power over the course of her lifetime. Born in Mumbai, India, Sen-Das grew up with Eliot’s work, which built a literary bridge for her between East and West. She understood Eliot’s work as being among the first to transcend borders and speak to the heart of diverse cultures. As life brought her from India to Oxford to New England, she saw students of many backgrounds connect to The Waste Land.
With this unique perspective, she makes the case for The Waste Land as a work of unifying literature. The issues it grapples with, and the possible solutions, are universal ones.
What is a 'fine press' book?
While most books are commercially mass-produced by machine, these are not—they are made by hand. At Thornwillow Press, we believe that reading is, and should be, a pleasure for the senses. With The Waste Land, we have been afforded the opportunity to return the poem to its publishing roots.
The history of The Waste Land is intertwined with the history of the fine press movement, of which Thornwillow is one of the last remaining presses. The first British edition of the poem was published by Virginia Woolf at Hogarth Press, and bound in paste paper wrappers on her kitchen table. We are proud to continue Woolf’s tradition. The Thornwillow Press edition, like her’s, is a labor of love.
We have taken inspiration from Virginia Wolf's Hogarth Press edition of THE WASTE LAND. Learn more about this and the design of the edition by watching . . .
When you add a Thornwillow fine press book to your collection, you can expect:
- Each page to be printed letterpress. You can feel the impression of the type as you run your finger across the page.
- Each book to be masterfully hand-bound, using only the finest materials.
- Each book to be individually hand numbered.
- And finally, when you pledge, your name is included on a subscribers list accompanying every book, and archived in the world's greatest collections.
Please enjoy this short film by our friends at Surrender Pictures about the Thornwillow philosophy . . .
And it gets better . . .
Friends of the Press know what always accompanies a Thornwillow book, but this edition has a few features in particular:
- A spectacular new introduction by Sravani Sen-Das, in which she discusses her own personal history with this poem, and makes the case for The Waste Land in the twenty-first century.
- Notes at the back of the book which situate the reader in Eliot's milieu.
- With every copy, a letterpress facsimile of one of the typescript pages of The Waste Land which includes material cut before the poem's publication.
We are offering THE WASTE LAND in four bindings.
PAPER-WRAPPER | Starting at $60. Edition limited to one hundred more than subscribed.
CLOTH | $185. Edition limited to one hundred more than subscribed.
HALF-LEATHER | Starting at $585. Edition limited to just fifty copies.
FULL-LEATHER | Starting at $1,500.
Most spectacularly, we are offering just fifteen unique full leather copies. There are five full leather bindings, designed for the five sections of The Waste Land. They are:
- The Burial of the Dead (five copies available for $1,500). Bound in full beige Morocco, with scarlet and dark brown "Hogarth" endpapers.
- A Game of Chess (four copies available for $2,000). Bound in full yellow Morocco, with black and purple "Hogarth" endpapers.
- The Fire Sermon (three copies available for $3,000). Bound in full scarlet Morocco, with scarlet and gray "Hogarth" endpapers. Printed letterpress on handmade paper.
- Death by Water (two copies available for $4,000). Bound in full blue Morocco, with green and deep blue "Hogarth" endpapers. Printed letterpress on handmade paper, and the initial letter of each part is hand-illuminated.
- What The Thunder Said (only one copy available for $5,000). Bound in full black Morocco, with yellow and gray "Hogarth" endpapers. Bound into the volume is an authentic T. S. Eliot autograph. Printed letterpress on handmade paper, and the initial letter of each part is hand-illuminated.
*Some full-leather copies have been reserved for collectors who pledged off of Kickstarter, which may be reflected in remaining availability.
We are incredibly excited to offer What The Thunder Said, a unique copy which is a genuine piece of both Eliot and Thornwillow history. The volume is printed letterpress on handmade paper, and the initial letter of each part is hand-illuminated. Most importantly, T. S. Eliot's autograph is bound into the book.
This, in itself, is significant. Eliot was famously reserved with his signature. He usually did not participate in book signings, and so his signature only ever graced his books when they were given to friends, or when a lucky reader happened across him on the street. Not only is the signature bound into this book a particularly high quality specimen, but it is bound up with Thornwillow history as well.
The signature comes from the collection of Luke Pontifell, Thornwillow's Publisher, who has held it in his collection for years, since he studied Eliot in College, around them time when Thornwillow was begun. Read more about this unique copy in the first update . . .
And it gets EVEN better . . .
We are pleased to offer a complimentary letterpress facsimile of T. S. Eliot's typescript draft of the poem's opening stanzas, complete with edits in his own hand. The typescript contains a portion of the poem cut before publication.
Risks and challenges
Having conducted twenty projects in the past, each of which has been delivered on time, we are confident in our ability to successfully manage any unexpected challenges. That said, we will always communicate them to our backers if they do arise.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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