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T. S. Eliot


T.S. Eliot (1888-1965), American-British poet and literary critic, author of Prufrock and Other Observations (1917) won numerous awards and honours in his lifetime, including the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948. His early and experimental poetical works depict a bleak and barren soullessness, often in spare yet finely crafted modern verse;

LET us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question …
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

--from "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

Another of his famous and oft-quoted works, The Waste Land (1922) deals with dark and haunting themes of individual consciousness and spiritual desolation against the decline of civilisation. Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness comes to mind as Eliot innovatively rejects traditional Romantic ideals through allusion and symbolism. From the first line "April is the cruellest month.." to the last "Shantih shantih shantih" we can intuit the dramatic scope and evolution of Eliot's own life in the Biblical, cultural, historical, and literary references that helped shape one of the 20th century's most profound figures in literature.

Thomas Stearns Eliot was born 26 September 1888 in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Charlotte Stearns and Henry Ware Eliot. He attended Harvard University before studying philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris, earning a B.A. and M.A. in English Literature. In 1914 he settled in England and worked as a schoolmaster and eventually met and became friends with many popular writers of the time including Ezra Pound. In 1915 he married Vivien Haigh Wood (they would separate in 1933). Around the time he was working with Lloyds Bank of London he also started editing the Egoist (1917–1919). Soon after he was publishing his own quarterly literary journal Criterion which would become one of the most acclaimed publications of the genre.

In 1925, busy working with the publishing house Faber and Faber he also continued to write many poems and essays. In 1927 he entered the Anglican church and became a British subject. He also wrote many plays including The Rock: A Pageant Play (1934); Murder in the Cathedral (1935); The Family Reunion (1939); The Cocktail Party (1950); The Confidential Clerk (1954); and The Elder Statesman (1959). In 1957 he married Valerie Fletcher. Collections of his plays include; Poems (1920); Poems 1909-1925 (1925); Ash Wednesday (1930); Four Quartets (1935–42); On Poetry and Poets (1957); Collected Poems 1909-1962 (1963).

Eliot's vast collection of critical works include; The Sacred Wood (1920); For Lancelot Andrewes (1928); Selected Essays, 1917–32 (1932); The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism (1933); After Strange Gods (1934); Elizabethan Essays (1934); Essays Ancient and Modern (1936); and Notes towards a Definition of Culture (1948).

Thomas Stearns Eliot died on 4 January 1965, his ashes interred at the Parish Church of Saint Michael in East Coker, Somerset, England from whence his ancestors came. There is a memorial to Eliot in Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey, London, England, his epitaph reading; "The communication of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living"

"In my beginning is my end. ..In my end is my beginning."--from Four Quartets, "East Coker"

Biography written by C.D. Merriman for Jalic Inc. Copyright Jalic Inc. 2006. All Rights Reserved.

The above biography is copyrighted. Do not republish it without permission.

Forum Discussions on T. S. Eliot

Recent Forum Posts on T. S. Eliot

Sexual encounter at the start of The Lovesong of J Alfred Prufrock

HI All, I recently reread the poem after many years, and noticed the following lines in a new light: The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes, The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening, Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains, Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys, Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap, And seeing that it was a soft October night, Curled once about the house, and fell asleep Its a sexual encounter. Eliot mixes up the dirtiness, smog filled London evening with the dirtiness and seediness of one of Prufrock's sexu...

Lines from Murder in the Cathedral used in Burnt Norton?

I have read, unfortunately can't remember where, that Burnt Norton "grew" out of some lines that Eliot had originally included in Murder in the Cathedral, but were cut because the director felt they were unsuitable for the stage. Does anybody have any idea what these lines were and what became of them in Burnt Norton?...

On the Objective correlative.

I came across this thread while doing some research on the Objective Correlative. I don't quiet understand the link between this concept and Hamlet. A teacher of mine said that Shakespeare was brilliant at "juxtaposing the concrete and the abstract" like for instance when he uses " harrow" a term linked to the earth, to refer to an abstract notion " soul". Do you think, we can speak of an objective correlative here? There are no clear combination of elements, yet the combination of a concrete term "harrow" and an abstract one "soul" might be considered as a combination of different elements. Don"...

Eliot and Groucho, An Unlikely Pair

One guesses that Groucho Marx, while always witty, was more of an intellectual than we gave him credit for, while T. S. Eliot, a stickler for perfection in his poetry and a fastidious literary critic is evidently not as straitlaced and stiff as we might picture him to be. Both are men of letters! on exhibition at the Library of Congress: and a funny anecdote

Help finding quote from Eliot from correspondence with Stephen Spender

My boss needs to find a quote from TS Eliot Eliot was asked around 1931 what he sees as the future, given what is happening in the culture, and he responds something like "people killing one another in the street." Then, I saw that it was in response to a question from Stephen Spender. If anyone has the quote and the exact source, it would be greatly appreciated....

The Four Quartets, an analysis

I don't have the time to read it now, but as someone who loves The Four Quartets I will eventually. Thanks....

help with eliot please

hi. anyone interested in eliot's journey of the magi? anyone? i have a couple of questions. i need help. SOS....

the family reunion by Eliot

i'm looking for any critical works about the family reunion...

Waste Paper

After T. S. Eliot won that poetry poll recently, I was motivated to go and reread much of it, and do a bit of reading around the subject. I was surprised to discover that another one of my favourite authors, H. P. Lovecraft, absolutely despised Eliot, and thought The Waste Land so dreadful and meaningless that he actually composed a rather cutting parody of it. So, I'm interested, what do you all think of Lovecraft's rather sour attempt to imitate Eliot? Waste Paper: A Poem of Profound Insignificance I Out of the reaches of illimitable night The blazing planet grew, and forc'd to life Unending cycles of progressive strife And strange mutations of undying light ...

TS Elliot, Another BBC poll

TS Elliot is Britains favourite poet. He just pipped Wilfred Owen in a BBC poll. I'm not sure of the breadth of the poll, there was a shortlist and it was internet only. I must say I knew nothing about it until the result was announced this morning on the radio. But TS Elliot! who would've thought? Are the great unwashed avidly reading The Wasteland, or did they vote for Old Possum?...

poetry by T.S Elliot

a book was published on the unpublished works of T.S Elloit...containing poems which were not published before from his rough note book.I know only this much any information regarding this from the forum members will be helpful ,thank you,:)...

Please help me (THE WASTE LAND) analysis

Hello Please I want you to help me and give me some information about (theme, figures of speech ,style, rhym and diction) of THE WASTE LAND by T.S.ELiot Please I need for these elements before my exam it will be after 4 days:bawling:...

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