“Such Friends”:  100 years ago, mid-December, 1921, Hotel Sainte Luce, Avenue Sainte-Luce 1, Lausanne, Switzerland; and Hotel Pas de Calais, 59 rue des Saints-Peres, Paris

American poet Tom Eliot, 33, has a decision to make.

His current plan is to leave Lausanne on Christmas Eve, when he should be done with the therapy treatments he is having here for his nervous condition. He will go to Paris to join up with his wife, Vivien, also 33, who has been there on her own for the past few weeks.

Hotel Sainte Luce

Or, he could stick around here for at least an extra week.

After he took a three-month leave of absence from his job at Lloyds Bank, Tom and Viv spent some weeks at Margate, on the English coast, where Tom made great progress on his long poem.

After seeing the top nerve specialist in London, Eliot agreed with him that he needed to get away and rest.

One of their friends, Ottoline Morrell, 48, who had shared with them her own bouts of depression, recommended this Dr. Roger Vittoz, 58, who had treated her brother here in Lausanne.

Dr. Roger Vittoz

The Eliots went first to Paris, where Tom worked on the poem—really still a handful of fragments—with another American ex-pat poet Ezra Pound, 36. Then Tom came here to begin treatments and Vivien stayed behind.

So far, Ottoline has been right about the town [although it’s a bit dull], the food [which is excellent], the people [who are very helpful], and the doctor.

The Vittoz method includes the doctor holding Tom’s head to read his brain waves and help to alter them. Vittoz gives Eliot exercises which involve repeating visuals and words which have brought him happiness.

Vittoz has been keeping Eliot busy, but he has found some times of calm to sit by Lake Geneva, working various moments he has experienced in to his epic.

The hotel is comfortable; the town is filled with chocolate shops, banks, and kids riding scooters over cobblestones.

From what Viv tells him, Paris is expensive. But any place in Europe is cheaper than London.

Tom is thinking he’ll stay here until the new year.

Of course, he could also spend a few days on the Riviera…

*****

In Paris, Vivien is not only worried about the expense, she is lonely. She has a little room high up in this hotel and can afford to eat only here instead of in any of the lovely Parisian cafes.

Hotel Pas de Calais

And when she’s been out in the neighborhood, Vivien feels that any Brits she knows from back home have been avoiding her. Just the other day at the post office, art critic Roger Fry, just turned 55, wasn’t happy to see her and made a hasty exit.

Paris is still cheaper than London. Ezra Pound and his wife have just moved into a lovely two-room studio around the corner for only £75 per year.

Maybe she and Tom should consider moving here…

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I and II covering 1920 and 1921 are available as signed copies at Riverstone Books, Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and in print and e-book formats on Amazon. If they can’t get it to you in time for gift giving, I can. Email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

Early in the new year I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses at the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”:  Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.

In Juan-les-Pins, on the French Riviera, in February, 1926…

 

…novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, 29, is reassured by his editor at Scribner’s, Maxwell Perkins, 41, that there is great hope for his newest book, All the Sad Young Men, a collection of short stories, most of which have been published in the Saturday Evening Post.

Fitzgerald had written to Perkins that he was worried the book wouldn’t sell even 5000 copies. But Perkins responded that he felt the stories were not only commercial, but also literary. One, “Absolution,” was the beginning of what became Scott’s third novel, The Great Gatsby. Published last year, Gatsby has been well received critically, but Fitzgerald is disappointed with the sales. Perkins likes to bring out a short story collection soon after publishing a novel, to capitalize on the author’ popularity.

All the sad young men

Original cover, 1926

In a few months, Fitzgerald is able to write to Charles Scribner, 71, the president of the publishing company,

For the first time in over four years, I am no longer in financial debt to you—or rather I won’t be when the money from my short story book becomes due me. But in another sense I shall always be in your debt—for your unfailing kindness and confidence and obligingness to me in all my exigencies during that time. Never once was I reminded of my obligations which were sometime as high at $4000, with no book in sight.

This year, we’ll be telling stories about these groups of ‘such friends,’ before, during and after their times together.

Manager as Muse explores Perkins’ work with Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe and is available on Amazon.

To walk with me and the ‘Such Friends’ through Bloomsbury, download the Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group audio walking tour from VoiceMap. Look for our upcoming walking tour about the Paris ‘such friends.’