Eliot's Early Years

Eliot's Early Years

4.14 (21 ratings by Goodreads)
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This is an account of T.S.Eliot's early life and works, which attempts to provide, not only a biographical profile of the poet's early years, but also a critical analysis of the poetry of those years, most notably "The Wasteland". Lyndall Gordon is author of "Virginia Woolf" and "Eliot's New Life". She won the Rose Mary Crawshay Prize 1978, for "Eliot's Early Years".show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 188 pages
  • 129.54 x 193.04 x 17.78mm | 204.12g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford Paperbacks
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 16pp illustrations, bibliography, index, source notes
  • 0192812521
  • 9780192812520

Table of contents

Early models; a New England student; beyond philosophy; Eliot's ordeals; the waste land traversed; conversion. Appendices: Eliot's reading in mysticism (1908-14); dating "The Waste Land" fragments; a note on "The Waste Land" and "Ulysses".show more

Review Text

This somber little book will sadden you if anything will. A spiritual biography of the poet of "The Waste Land" could do no less. But this one, so relentlessly serious in tone, melancholy in theme, and evocative in prose, enfolds T. S. Eliot's passage through mortal despair toward the church in an atmosphere of dreadful actuality. Gordon's sole intent is to show that Eliot's life and work to the time of his conversion at age 38 were driven by a morally severe "impulse of perfection" inherited from his Puritan family. This impulse repeatedly clashed with realities - sensuality, inhibition, vulgarity, ignorance, boredom, squalor - and the conflict aroused in Eliot an anguished sense of desolation, guilt, and self-contempt. He sought to save himself by many means - a poetic and philosophic search for the "Absolute," the disastrous misalliance of his first marriage, and finally a thoroughgoing conversion to Anglicanism. This single-minded, critically sensible version of Eliot's spiritual progress has the virtue of turning up the latent religiosity in Eliot's most famous poems and the psychological debilities that underlay them, although it has the fault of providing only a glimpse of Eliot's life. One can only wish the title conveyed the limits of Gordon's theme to prepare readers for the experience that awaits them. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

21 ratings
4.14 out of 5 stars
5 33% (7)
4 48% (10)
3 19% (4)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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