From How to Read ‘The Waste Land’ So It Alters Your Soul by Mary Karr:
Just take the references and other aspects of the poem on blind faith. Read it first for joy. Shut up your head’s claptrap and open yourself to fall in love with it. Treat it like a first date, which should begin with ignorance but also with hope. Only if you fall in love do you make a study of the beloved, for only passion lets us inquire into other people’s mysteries with the vitality born of conviction. With enough ardor, your date’s off-putting manner of dismantling chicken becomes an adorable nuance. So it is with “The Waste Land.”
Mowbray Morris, editor of Macmillan’s, wrote to Thomas Hardy in 1886 asking him to save one of his novel characters (partway through serial publication) from too much sexual immorality:
“I have received a Round Robin concerning some offence against morality that had been smelled out in our pages! … Of course it is very annoying to have to reckon for such asses: still, I can’t help it; an Editor must be commercial as well as literary; and the magazine has scarcely so abundant a sale that I can afford to disregard any section of its readers.”
Quoted in Philip Gaskell’s From Writer to Reader, p. 197
“A man may be as ugly as the devil, and yet, if his heart and actions are good, he is worth all the pretty-faced perfumed puppies that walk the Mall.”
– from “Schalken the Painter,” Sheridan Le Fanu, 1839
Spoiler alert: It doesn’t turn out to be true.