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T.S. Eliot

Early publications

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T. S. Eliot (1888-1965)
T. S. Eliot World Literature Analysis
Early years

However, he himself in a sense started from scratch. Sometime in the period from through , Eliot managed to create a new poetic style in English. During this time, he had been reading the French Symbolist poets, who had flourished in the last half of the nineteenth century. Eliot was especially drawn to Laforgue, whose dramatic monologues contained a mixture of highly sophisticated irony and an original, difficult style.

The kind of poetry that I needed, to teach me the use of my own voice, did not exist in English at all; it was only found in French. Modernism was an artistic movement that lasted, in American and English literature, from about to , although most literature since that time continues to be heavily influenced by modernist techiques.

These techniques, first developed largely by Pound and Eliot, involved the use of free verse poetry without regular meter and rhyme , multiple speakers or personas within one poem, and a disjointed, nonlinear style.

Prufrock is a citizen of the modern city, an acute observer of its confusion, grime, and poignancy. Eliot and Pound knew that they were creating a literary revolution: Both poets actively furthered the revolution through their essays, articles, and reviews.

Two years later, in , Poems was published. The Sacred Wood , a collection of essays, appeared soon after the publication of Poems. Scholars still debate the impact on subsequent literature of these relatively short prose articles, most of which were written for literary magazines or newspapers.

Students of modern English literature agree, however, that these essays, like the poems that preceded them, permanently altered the way readers assessed poetry. Two essays from the collection are particularly important: According to Eliot, the masterful poet, fully conscious of working within the tradition, is very much an instrument of the tradition; that is, he or she is in a way an impersonal medium for the common literary heritage.

Poets were no longer able to join the intellect and the emotions to produce true masterworks. These three ideas—the impersonal theory of poetry, the objective correlative, and the dissociation of sensibility—certainly changed the way American and British scholars studied poetry: In his next major poem, and his most famous, these ideas were given full play. The Waste Land is unquestionably one of the most important poems of the twentieth century. Its importance lies in its literary excellence—its insight and originality—and in its influence on other poets.

Although Eliot said that he always wrote with his mind firmly on tradition, The Waste Land broke with the look, the sound, and the subject of most poetry written since the early nineteenth century.

In the poem, allusions to myth, religion, Western and Eastern literature, and popular culture are almost constant; in fact, many stretches of the poem are direct, and unacknowledged, quotations from other sources.

Because no one narrator appears to be speaking the poem, the work seems as impersonal as a crowded London street. The mood is one of despair, loneliness, and confusion—the central feelings, Eliot believed, of modern city dwellers.

At the same time, he was deeply immersed in the study of the great medieval poet Dante, whose poetry and prose seemed to illuminate a way that a poet could approach religion and achieve serenity of spirit. Accordingly, at the end of the decade Eliot joined the Church of England; from then until the end of his life, he was a faithful to it. In the poem, the speaker is far less impersonal than in earlier works: There is no reason to suppose, in fact, that the narrator is not Eliot himself, a man desperately seeking his God.

By , Eliot was firmly established as an influential man of letters. As his literary star continued to rise, however, his personal life became more difficult.

By then, he had separated from Vivien, and in , with the cooperation of her family, he had his wife committed to a mental institution. Thereafter, Eliot lived the life of a secular monk. Eliot had also become an even more prolific writer of reviews and essays. A Primer of Modern Heresy , , his output of poetry had slowed to a trickle. Not so his dramatic writing. His first full effort was The Rock , which was a modernized version of the traditional pageant play staged in a large church.

The peak of his dramatic career, however, came with Murder in the Cathedral. The work enjoyed much popular success in London and New York, and it has been repeatedly broadcast as a radio play. The widespread acceptance of Murder in the Cathedral led Eliot to believe that the time was ripe for a revival of poetic drama, although, as it turned out, he remained the only masterly practitioner of the form.

Many critics argue, in fact, that this, and not The Waste Land , is his greatest poem. In this sequence, Eliot has moved quite far from his earlier impersonality: The poem is nearly autobiographical, although much of it explores the relation of human beings generally to God.

Each of the places named in the quartets had a deeply personal meaning to Eliot. East Coker, for example, is the town from which the Eliot family came to the New World, and the Dry Salvages are a group of small, rocky islands off the New England coast, where Eliot vacationed as a boy.

He continued to write plays, and these became more approachable, more popular, even more humorous. Eliot definitely had his comic, whimsical side. It seems reasonable to suppose that Eliot would have appreciated his success on Broadway. A genteel, middle-aged speaker describes the emptiness and anxiety of a life lived in a grim twentieth century city.

The lines in Italian are spoken by one of the damned souls to Dante as he journeys through Hell. Like souls in the Inferno, Prufrock exists in a kind of living death. Perhaps he assumes that they share his comfortable wealth and socially active lifestyle. As his proper, even prissy, name implies, Prufrock is neurotic, fearful, sensitive, and bored.

At any rate, what is evident right from the outset of the poem is that Prufrock is unhappy with his life. His unhappiness, he suspects, has something to do with the society in which he lives: There is, for example, the jarring clash between the grim cityscape through which he walks and the mindless tea-party conversation of his friends.

One important way in which this poem is different from the poetry of the century before it is the way in which the speaker describes nature. In the nineteenth century, poets described the natural world as the real home of God, as the fountain at which weary human beings could refresh themselves.

The urban images that follow this one are just as grim: The streets appear sinister; they seem to threaten the people walking in them, bullying them with pointed questions. As night falls and the fog settles in, Prufrock describes another landscape—this time, a temporal one where time stretches to infinity. He knows, however, that he will not be able to use this time to advantage; as usual, he will be indecisive.

Like the limitless streets outside his window, infinite time also threatens Prufrock. The more life he has left to live, the more he is left to wonder and to question. Wondering and questioning frighten him because the answers that they provoke might challenge the perfect, unchanging regularity of his tidy existence. Nothing that has happened to Prufrock in his life is particularly comforting: He would like his life to change, but at the same time he fears change and the unexpected events that change might bring.

He feels as though he already knows everything that is bound to happen to him. He especially knows the kinds of people whom he is likely to continue meeting—socialites who pin him down with their critical scrutiny. Yet something besides these general, abstract worries bothers Prufrock. His chronic indecision blocks him from some important action. The reader never learns specifically what this thwarted act might be, but Prufrock seems to address a woman, perhaps one he loves.

Prufrock implies, however, that the woman would reject him if he could ever gather his courage and tell her how he feels.

He pictures her sitting in her genteel drawing room, explaining that she had not meant to encourage him: Still, he faintly hears the mermaids of romance singing in his imagination, even though they are not singing to him. The Hollow Men appeared in For the critic Edmund Wilson , it marked "The nadir of the phase of despair and desolation given such effective expression in The Waste Land.

Similar to Eliot's other works, its themes are overlapping and fragmentary. Post-war Europe under the Treaty of Versailles which Eliot despised , the difficulty of hope and religious conversion, Eliot's failed marriage. Ash-Wednesday is the first long poem written by Eliot after his conversion to Anglicanism. Published in , it deals with the struggle that ensues when one who has lacked faith acquires it.

Sometimes referred to as Eliot's "conversion poem", it is richly but ambiguously allusive, and deals with the aspiration to move from spiritual barrenness to hope for human salvation.

Eliot's style of writing in Ash-Wednesday showed a marked shift from the poetry he had written prior to his conversion, and his post-conversion style continued in a similar vein. His style became less ironic, and the poems were no longer populated by multiple characters in dialogue.

His subject matter also became more focused on Eliot's spiritual concerns and his Christian faith. Many critics were particularly enthusiastic about Ash-Wednesday. Edwin Muir maintained that it is one of the most moving poems Eliot wrote, and perhaps the "most perfect", though it was not well received by everyone. The poem's groundwork of orthodox Christianity discomfited many of the more secular literati. This first edition had an illustration of the author on the cover.

In , the composer Alan Rawsthorne set six of the poems for speaker and orchestra in a work titled Practical Cats. After Eliot's death, the book was adapted as the basis of the musical Cats by Andrew Lloyd Webber , first produced in London's West End in and opening on Broadway the following year.

Eliot regarded Four Quartets as his masterpiece, and it is the work that led to his being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Each has five sections. Although they resist easy characterisation, each poem includes meditations on the nature of time in some important respect— theological , historical, physical—and its relation to the human condition.

Each poem is associated with one of the four classical elements , respectively: Burnt Norton is a meditative poem that begins with the narrator trying to focus on the present moment while walking through a garden, focusing on images and sounds like the bird, the roses, clouds, and an empty pool. In the final section, the narrator contemplates the arts "Words" and "music" as they relate to time. East Coker continues the examination of time and meaning, focusing in a famous passage on the nature of language and poetry.

Out of darkness, Eliot offers a solution: The Dry Salvages treats the element of water, via images of river and sea. It strives to contain opposites: Little Gidding the element of fire is the most anthologised of the Quartets. Eliot's experiences as an air raid warden in the Blitz power the poem, and he imagines meeting Dante during the German bombing.

From this background, the Quartets end with an affirmation of Julian of Norwich: The Four Quartets cannot be understood without reference to Christian thought, traditions, and history. Eliot draws upon the theology, art, symbolism and language of such figures as Dante, and mystics St. John of the Cross and Julian of Norwich. The "deeper communion" sought in East Coker , the "hints and whispers of children, the sickness that must grow worse in order to find healing", and the exploration which inevitably leads us home all point to the pilgrim's path along the road of sanctification.

With the important exception of Four Quartets , Eliot directed much of his creative energies after Ash Wednesday to writing plays in verse, mostly comedies or plays with redemptive endings. In a lecture he said "Every poet would like, I fancy, to be able to think that he had some direct social utility. He would like to be something of a popular entertainer, and be able to think his own thoughts behind a tragic or a comic mask.

He would like to convey the pleasures of poetry, not only to a larger audience, but to larger groups of people collectively; and the theatre is the best place in which to do it. After The Waste Land , he wrote that he was "now feeling toward a new form and style". One project he had in mind was writing a play in verse, using some of the rhythms of early jazz. The play featured "Sweeney", a character who had appeared in a number of his poems. Although Eliot did not finish the play, he did publish two scenes from the piece.

These scenes, titled Fragment of a Prologue and Fragment of an Agon , were published together in as Sweeney Agonistes. Although Eliot noted that this was not intended to be a one-act play, it is sometimes performed as one. A pageant play by Eliot called The Rock was performed in for the benefit of churches in the Diocese of London.

Much of it was a collaborative effort; Eliot accepted credit only for the authorship of one scene and the choruses. Martin Browne for the production of The Rock , and later commissioned Eliot to write another play for the Canterbury Festival in This one, Murder in the Cathedral , concerning the death of the martyr, Thomas Becket , was more under Eliot's control.

Eliot biographer Peter Ackroyd comments that "for [Eliot], Murder in the Cathedral and succeeding verse plays offered a double advantage; it allowed him to practice poetry but it also offered a convenient home for his religious sensibility.

Regarding his method of playwriting, Eliot explained, "If I set out to write a play, I start by an act of choice. I settle upon a particular emotional situation, out of which characters and a plot will emerge. And then lines of poetry may come into being: Eliot also made significant contributions to the field of literary criticism , strongly influencing the school of New Criticism.

He was somewhat self-deprecating and minimising of his work and once said his criticism was merely a "by-product" of his "private poetry-workshop" But the critic William Empson once said, "I do not know for certain how much of my own mind [Eliot] invented, let alone how much of it is a reaction against him or indeed a consequence of misreading him.

He is a very penetrating influence, perhaps not unlike the east wind. In his critical essay " Tradition and the Individual Talent ", Eliot argues that art must be understood not in a vacuum, but in the context of previous pieces of art. Eliot himself employed this concept on many of his works, especially on his long-poem The Waste Land. Also important to New Criticism was the idea—as articulated in Eliot's essay " Hamlet and His Problems "—of an " objective correlative ", which posits a connection among the words of the text and events, states of mind, and experiences.

More generally, New Critics took a cue from Eliot in regard to his "'classical' ideals and his religious thought; his attention to the poetry and drama of the early seventeenth century; his deprecation of the Romantics, especially Shelley; his proposition that good poems constitute 'not a turning loose of emotion but an escape from emotion'; and his insistence that 'poets Eliot's essays were a major factor in the revival of interest in the metaphysical poets.

Eliot particularly praised the metaphysical poets' ability to show experience as both psychological and sensual, while at the same time infusing this portrayal with—in Eliot's view—wit and uniqueness. Eliot's essay "The Metaphysical Poets", along with giving new significance and attention to metaphysical poetry, introduced his now well-known definition of "unified sensibility", which is considered by some to mean the same thing as the term "metaphysical".

His poem The Waste Land [81] also can be better understood in light of his work as a critic. He had argued that a poet must write "programmatic criticism", that is, a poet should write to advance his own interests rather than to advance "historical scholarship".

Viewed from Eliot's critical lens, The Waste Land likely shows his personal despair about World War I rather than an objective historical understanding of it. Late in his career, Eliot focused much of his creative energy on writing for the theatre; some of his earlier critical writing, in essays such as "Poetry and Drama," [83] "Hamlet and his Problems," [77] and "The Possibility of a Poetic Drama," [84] focused on the aesthetics of writing drama in verse.

Alfred Prufrock", "Portrait of a Lady", "La Figlia Che Piange", "Preludes", and "Rhapsody on a Windy Night" had "[an] effect [that] was both unique and compelling, and their assurance staggered [Eliot's] contemporaries who were privileged to read them in manuscript. The wholeness is there, from the very beginning. The initial critical response to Eliot's "The Waste Land" was mixed. Bush notes that the piece was at first correctly perceived as a work of jazz-like syncopation—and, like s jazz , essentially iconoclastic.

Edmund Wilson, being one of the critics who praised Eliot, called him "one of our only authentic poets". In regard to "The Waste Land", Wilson admits its flaws "its lack of structural unity" , but concluded, "I doubt whether there is a single other poem of equal length by a contemporary American which displays so high and so varied a mastery of English verse. Charles Powell was negative in his criticism of Eliot, calling his poems incomprehensible.

For instance, though Ransom negatively criticised "The Waste Land" for its "extreme disconnection", Ransom was not completely condemnatory of Eliot's work and admitted that Eliot was a talented poet. Addressing some of the common criticisms directed against "The Waste Land" at the time, Gilbert Seldes stated, "It seems at first sight remarkably disconnected and confused Eliot's reputation as a poet, as well as his influence in the academy, peaked following the publication of The Four Quartets.

In an essay on Eliot published in , the writer Cynthia Ozick refers to this peak of influence from the s through the early s as "the Age of Eliot" when Eliot "seemed pure zenith, a colossus, nothing less than a permanent luminary, fixed in the firmament like the sun and the moon".

As Eliot's conservative religious and political convictions began to seem less congenial in the postwar world, other readers reacted with suspicion to his assertions of authority, obvious in Four Quartets and implicit in the earlier poetry. The result, fueled by intermittent rediscovery of Eliot's occasional anti-Semitic rhetoric, has been a progressive downward revision of his once towering reputation.

Bush also notes that Eliot's reputation "slipped" significantly further after his death. He writes, "Sometimes regarded as too academic William Carlos Williams 's view , Eliot was also frequently criticized for a deadening neoclassicism as he himself—perhaps just as unfairly—had criticized Milton. However, the multifarious tributes from practicing poets of many schools published during his centenary in was a strong indication of the intimidating continued presence of his poetic voice.

Although Eliot's poetry is not as influential as it once was, notable literary scholars, like Harold Bloom [92] and Stephen Greenblatt , [93] still acknowledge that Eliot's poetry is central to the literary English canon. For instance, the editors of The Norton Anthology of English Literature write, "There is no disagreement on [Eliot's] importance as one of the great renovators of the English poetry dialect, whose influence on a whole generation of poets, critics, and intellectuals generally was enormous.

The depiction of Jews in some of Eliot's poems has led several critics to accuse him of anti-Semitism. This case has been presented most forcefully in a study by Anthony Julius: Eliot, Anti-Semitism, and Literary Form Bleistein with a Cigar". In this poem, Eliot wrote, "The rats are underneath the piles. It reaches out like a clear signal to the reader.

In a series of lectures delivered at the University of Virginia in , published under the title After Strange Gods: A Primer of Modern Heresy , Eliot wrote of societal tradition and coherence, "What is still more important [than cultural homogeneity] is unity of religious background, and reasons of race and religion combine to make any large number of free-thinking Jews undesirable. Craig Raine , in his books In Defence of T.

Eliot and T. Eliot , sought to defend Eliot from the charge of anti-Semitism. Reviewing the book, Paul Dean stated that he was not convinced by Raine's argument. Nevertheless, he concluded, "Ultimately, as both Raine and, to do him justice, Julius insist, however much Eliot may have been compromised as a person, as we all are in our several ways, his greatness as a poet remains.

Eliot's well-earned reputation [as a poet] is established beyond all doubt, and making him out to be as unflawed as the Archangel Gabriel does him no favours. Eliot's influence extends beyond the English language.

Below are a partial list of honours and awards received by T. Eliot or bestowed or created in his honour. These honours are displayed in order of precedence based on Eliot's nationality and rules of protocol, not awarding date.

Retrieved 25 February From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other people named Thomas Eliot, see Thomas Eliot disambiguation. The Love Song of J. Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. Facsimile Edition Inventions of the March Hare: Eliot's Life and Career.

John A Garraty and Mark C. Oxford University Press, Retrieved 26 April Nobel Lectures, Literature — Elsevier Publishing Company, , accessed 6 March The Modernist in History New York, , p. Louis University Libraries, Inc. Literature and Language , no. Washington University Press, , p. The Art of Poetry No. Eliot and Alien Cultures: Eliot, The World Fair of St. Louis and "Autonomy" , Nagoya: Kougaku Shuppan , pp.

Eliot", American Literary Scholarship , , p. Eliot's Life and Career". Retrieved 1 December On the Significance of T. Eliot , Knopf Publishing Group, p. The Letters of T. Eliot, Volume 1, — Random House, , p. A Life of Vivienne Eliot. Knopf Publishing Group, , p. Retrieved 26 October Voices and Visions Series. New York Center of Visual History: Eliot to For Lancelot Andrewes: Essays on style and order On Poetry and Poets.

The Modernist in History , p. Where Emily Hale and Vivienne were part of Eliot's private phantasmagoria, Mary Trevelyan played her part in what was essentially a public friendship. She was Eliot's escort for nearly twenty years until his second marriage in A brainy woman, with the bracing organizational energy of a Florence Nightingale, she propped the outer structure of Eliot's life, but for him she, too, represented..

Eliot, and Humanism , , p. For her their friendship was a commitment; for Eliot quite peripheral. His passion for immortality was so commanding that it allowed him to Eliot — A Twenty-first Century View , p. Eliot's widow Valerie Eliot dies at 86". Associated Press via Yahoo News.

Retrieved 12 November Books on Google Play T. The Critical Heritage, Volume 1. Retrieved 3 January Retrieved 23 November Woods, April 21, Harcourt Brace, , p.

The Harvard Advocate Poems''. Retrieved 5 February ". Retrieved 3 August Archived from the original PDF on 3 October Retrieved 7 November Eliot and Indic Traditions: A Study in Poetry and Belief". Retrieved 8 March Retrieved 23 April Wagner omits the word "very" from the quote. Pennsylvania State University Press. Hartcourt Brace, , pp. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 27 July And I Tiresias have foresuffered all The Waste Land And Criticism". Faber And Faber Limited.

Retrieved 26 January — via Internet Archive. Essays on Poetry and Criticism. Retrieved 26 January Carnes eds , American National Biography. Books and Schools of the Ages.

Stephen Greenblatt, et al. Eliot, Anti-Semitism, and Literary Form. The New York Times. Retrieved 9 April

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Eliot's style is modernist, which means things are approached from a somewhat fractured perspective - as in Nude Descending A Staircase by Duchamp. This is how the poet was able to compare an evening sky to an "etherized" patient dozing in an operating room via this fracture of consciousness.

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Eliot's most famous works were published near the beginning of his career. They're definitely Modernist in style. When he's starting out, he publishes 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock' in

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T. S. Eliot World Literature Analysis - Essay. Writing about the poetry of Eliot is difficult for a number of reasons. understandable style. Rather, Eliot . The writing style of modernism was unprecedented and reflective of the socio-political events of the period. T.S Eliot was a pre-eminent figure in modernism publishing many important works of prose and poetry in his lifetime.

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T.S Eliot is considered as one of the most important modernist poets. The content of his poem as well as his poetic style give elements of the. May 30,  · This Site Might Help You. RE: T.S. Eliot writing style? what was the writing style of T.S. Eliot? what makes his style so unique from others of his period?Status: Resolved.