Selected Prose of T. S. Eliot

Front Cover
Thomas Stearns Eliot, Frank Kermode
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975 - Literary Criticism - 320 pages
6 Reviews
Thirty-one essays-categorized as “essays in generalization,” “appreciations of individual authors,” and “social and religious criticism”- written over a half century. This volume reveals Eliot’s original ideas, cogent conclusions, and skill and grace in language. Edited and with an Introduction by Frank Kermode; Index. Published jointly with Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
3
4 stars
2
3 stars
0
2 stars
1
1 star
0

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - page.fault - LibraryThing

In general, my reading tastes are pulp-press-simple. I can neither appreciate, nor enjoy, nor, I admit, even understand, poetry. But Eliot is different, and I don't know why. I have very little ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Melumebelle - LibraryThing

I adore T. S. Eliot! I love "The Hollow Men" and "Rhapsody on a Windy Night". (: He had amazing writing talent and the fact that he's still respected and read today is definitely saying something. Read full review

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (1975)

T. S. Eliot is considered by many to be a literary genius and one of the most influential men of letters during the half-century after World War I. He was born on September 26, 1888, in St. Louis, Missouri. Eliot attended Harvard University, with time abroad pursuing graduate studies at the Sorbonne, Marburg, and Oxford. The outbreak of World War I prevented his return to the United States, and, persuaded by Ezra Pound to remain in England, he decided to settle there permanently. He published his influential early criticism, much of it written as occasional pieces for literary periodicals. He developed such doctrines as the "dissociation of sensibility" and the "objective correlative" and elaborated his views on wit and on the relation of tradition to the individual talent. Eliot by this time had left his early, derivative verse far behind and had begun to publish avant-garde poetry (including "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" (1915), which exploited fresh rhythms, abrupt juxtapositions, contemporary subject matter, and witty allusion. This period of creativity also resulted in another collection of verse (including "Gerontian") and culminated in The Waste Land, a masterpiece published in 1922 and produced partly during a period of psychological breakdown while married to his wife, Vivienne Haigh-Wood Eliot. In 1922, Eliot became a director of the Faber & Faber publishing house, and in 1927 he became a British citizen and joined the Church of England. Thereafter, his career underwent a change. With the publication of Ash Wednesday in 1930, his poetry became more overtly Christian. As editor of the influential literary magazine The Criterion, he turned his hand to social as well as literary criticism, with an increasingly conservative orientation. His religious poetry culminated in Four Quartets, published individually from 1936 onward and collectively in 1943. This work is often considered to be his greatest poetic achievement. Eliot also wrote poetry in a much lighter vein, such as Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (1939), a collection that was used during the early 1980s as the basis for the musical, Cats. In addition to his contributions in poetry and criticism, Eliot is the pivotal verse dramatist of this century. He followed the lead of William Butler Yeats in attempting to revive metrical language in the theater. But, unlike Yeats, Eliot wanted a dramatic verse that would be self-effacing, capable of expressing the most prosaic passages in a play, and an insistent, undetected presence capable of elevating itself at a moment's notice. His progression from the pageant The Rock (1934) and Murder in the Cathedral (1935), written for the Canterbury Festival, through The Family Reunion (1939) and The Cocktail Party (1949), a West End hit, was thus a matter of neutralizing obvious poetic effects and bringing prose passages into the flow of verse. Recent critics have seen Eliot as a divided figure, covertly attracted to the very elements (romanticism, personality, heresy) he overtly condemned. His early attacks on romantic poets, for example, often reveal him as a romantic against the grain. The same divisions carry over into his verse, where violence struggles against restraint, emotion against order, and imagination against ironic detachment. This Eliot is more human and more attractive to contemporary taste. During his lifetime, Eliot received many honors and awards, including the Nobel Prize for literature in 1948.

John Frank Kermode was a writer, educator, and literary critic. He was born in Douglas, Isle of Man on November 29, 1919. Kermode received a B.A. in 1940 and an M.A. in 1947 from Liverpool University. Kermode served during World War II with the Royal Navy. After the war, Kermode held positions at Manchester University, Bristol University, University College of London, and Cambridge University, all in England, and at Columbia University in New York City. He was Charles E. Norton Professor at Harvard University in 1977-78 and Henry Luce Professor at Yale University in 1994. Kermode wrote several books on literary figures, including D.H. Lawrence and Wallace Stevens. His works of criticism include An Appetite for Poetry and The Art of Telling. Kermode was also the editor of the cultural journal, Encounter and his memoir, Not Entitled, was published in 1995. Kermode serves on the editorial board of the London Review of Books and Common Knowledge and has acted as judge for the Booker Prize. He was knighted for his service to English literature and he was named a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1999.

Bibliographic information