T. S. Eliot
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T. S. Eliot

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The winner of the Nobel Trize for Literature, the twentieth century's most famous poet and its most influential literary arbiter, T.S. Eliot has long been thought to be an obscure and difficult poet-forbiddingly learned, maddeningly enigmatic. Now, in this brilliant exploration of T.S. Eliot's work, prize-winning poet Craig Raine reveals that, on the contrary, Eliot's poetry (and drama and criticism) can be seen as a unified and coherent body of work. Indeed, despite its manifest originality, its radical experimentation, and its dazzling formal variety, his verse yields meaning just as surely as other more conventional poetry. Raine argues that an implicit controlling theme-the buried life, or the failure of feeling-unfolds in surprisingly varied ways throughout Eliot's work. But alongside Eliot's desire "to live with all intensity" was also a distrust of "violent emotion for its own sake." Raine illuminates this paradoxical Eliot-an exacting anti-romantic realist, skeptical of the emotions, yet incessantly troubled by the fear of emotional failure-through close readings of such poems as "The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock," "Gerontion," The Hollow Men, Ash Wednesday, and many others. The heart of the book contains extended analyses of Eliot's two master works-The Waste Land and Four Quartets. Raine also examines Eliot's criticism-including his coinage of such key literary terms as the objective correlative, dissociation of sensibility, the auditory imagination-and he concludes with a convincing refutation of charges that Eliot was an anti-Semite. Here then is a volume absolutely indispensable for all admirers of T.S. Eliot and, in fact, for everyone who loves modern literature.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 224 pages
  • 137.2 x 210.8 x 25.4mm | 22.68g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195309936
  • 9780195309935
  • 1,085,775

Review quote

a superb introduction to a great poet and a lovable man. * Contemporary Review * Raine succeeds in clarifying the emotional atmosphere of poems that readers often find forbidding...[his] thematic summaries are surely not wrong...and they help to orient a first reading of Eliot's work * Adam Kirsch, Literary Criticism, The Times Literary Supplement no5420 * A new, more accessible Eliot * Michiko Kakutani, International Herald Tribune * A good guide to the historical and literary origins of the poems. * Philip Hensher, The Daily Telegraph * Do we need another book about him? The answer, given Craig Raine's T.S. Eliot, is a strong 'Yes'. * Sean O'Brien, Sunday Times (Culture) * There are authors who one would rather read about than read. T.S Eliot is not one of them, yet there is both pleasure and profit to be got from Craig Raine's new study of the poet. * John Bayley, Times Literary Supplement * (Eliot's) existence is in his published work. This explains the strategy of Raine's short monograph - an intensely argued reading of the words on the published page. The exercise is done brilliantly. A poet himself, Raine is hyper alert to nuance. He has a sensitivity to literary echo rivalling that of the greatest living reader of Eliot, Christopher Ricks. * John Sutherland, Financial Times * This book is an ingenious and convincing demonstration that Eliot is still the Old Possum: lying unassertively low, but anxiously aware that the disinterment of the buried life is an undeniable imperative. But most importantly, it shows perceptively why Eliot's poems work with their unique compulsiveness. * Bernard O'Donoghue, Literary Review * a fabulous stimulating book, which marries old-fashioned literary criticism to pleasingly off-beam cultural allusions. * Ian Thomson, The Spectator * The most attractive quality of Raine's mind, in this book, is its vivacity, its enthusiasm, its racy pleasure in turning aside to compare a detail in Eliot with something in Nabokov, Kundera or Lawrence. * Denis Donoghue, London Review of Books * A lively new book. * Bernard O'Donoghue, Literary Review * The book is excellent on the influence on Eliot of Jules Laforge, and has a poet's astute ear for the stray effects of sound and syntax. * Terry Eagleton, Prospect * This is a thoughtful book on a thorny subject. * John Montague, Irish Times (Dublin) *show more

About Craig Raine

Craig Raine is Fellow and Tutor in English at New College, Oxford, and editor of Arete, a tri-quarterly arts magazine. Poet, literary critic, playwright, librettist, and editor, Raine has been a powerful voice and an adversarial, intellectually independent figure in the literary world for the last 40 years.show more

Rating details

53 ratings
3.56 out of 5 stars
5 25% (13)
4 21% (11)
3 43% (23)
2 9% (5)
1 2% (1)
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