Eliot's New Life

Eliot's New Life

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In this sequel to her acclaimed biography of T.S.Eliot, Lyndall Gordon continues her exploration of the ties between Eliot's work and the events and relationships which influenced it. T.S.Eliot's search for a new life after the traumatic break-up of his first marriage was marked externally by his entry into the Anglican Church, and by the exchange of American nationality for British. These two events indicate a break with the past; yet, as Lyndall Gordon's new research shows, Eliot's American ties, both personal and literary, were becoming more, not less, important to him during this period. This inner preoccupation with his past is persuasively traced through the autobiographically revealing early drafts of some of his most mature works The continuing friendship with Emily, the woman who inspired some of his great religious poetry, and with Mary Trevelyan (who, as her memoirs reveal, wanted to marry him), provide the key to a new understanding of Eliot's most inscrutable years.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 368 pages
  • 124 x 194 x 24mm | 358.34g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford Paperbacks
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 8pp plates, bibliography, index
  • 0192826964
  • 9780192826961

Review Text

T.S. Eliot's later life from the 30's through to his death in 1965, with the emphasis on the women who, in Gordon's view, offer a key to understanding his work. In Eliot's Early Years, the first volume of her study, Gordon painstakingly examined the development of the poet's spiritual progress towards Anglo-Catholicism at age 38. Here, Gordon (Columbia, Oxford, Virginia Woolf: A Writer's Life) tracks Eliot through two marriages and two near-miss relationships that intersect with his later career. Naturally, the specter of Eliot's first wife looms large: diagnosed as schizophrenic, a possible source for the domestic misery portrayed in The Waste Land, Vivienne Haigh-Wood took to crashing the Faber and Faber offices in search of Eliot following his attempts at separation and divorce, and spent the last years of her life confined in an asylum. Of major interest to Gordon is Emily Hale, a family friend from New England whom Eliot came close to marrying, and who in Gordon's opinion acted as a little-examined influence on Eliot's verse. Also under discussion are Mary Trevlayan, the go-getting companion of Eliot's most public period as a dramatist, and his second wife, Valerie Fletcher, whom he married at 68 (she was 30). The value in all of this lies with Gordon's claim that a strong autobiographical element runs through Eliot's verse, despite his well-known denunciations of personal subjectivity in art. Intriguing. (Kirkus Reviews)show more