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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.