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T. S. Eliot

T. S. Eliot T. S. Eliot[1†]

Thomas Stearns Eliot, known as T. S. Eliot (1888–1965), an eminent Modernist poet, revolutionized English verse with works like "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" (1915) and "The Waste Land" (1922). His impactful use of language and critical essays challenged cultural norms. Awarded the 1948 Nobel Prize in Literature, Eliot remains one of the 20th century's foremost literary figures, reshaping poetry and thought[1†][2†].

Early Years and Education

Thomas Stearns Eliot, known as T. S. Eliot, was born on September 26, 1888, in St. Louis, Missouri[2†][1†]. He was the last of six surviving children in a distinguished New England family that had relocated to St. Louis[2†][1†]. His paternal grandfather, William Greenleaf Eliot, had moved to St. Louis to establish a Unitarian Christian church there[2†][1†]. His father, Henry Ware Eliot, was a successful businessman, president and treasurer of the Hydraulic-Press Brick Company in St Louis[2†][1†]. His mother, Charlotte Champe Stearns, who wrote poetry, was a social worker[2†][1†].

Eliot’s family allowed him the widest education available in his time, with no influence from his father to be “practical” and to go into business[2†]. From Smith Academy in St. Louis, he went to Milton, in Massachusetts[2†]. From Milton, he entered Harvard in 1906[2†]. He received a B.A. in 1909, after three instead of the usual four years[2†]. During his time at Harvard, he studied philosophy[2†], and he wrote his first significant poems during his year abroad in Paris, 1910–1911[2†][3†].

After his undergraduate studies, Eliot expanded his academic horizons at the Sorbonne and Oxford[2†][4†]. He moved to England in 1914 at the age of 25[2†][1†]. He became a British subject in 1927 at the age of 39, renouncing his American citizenship[2†][1†].

Eliot’s early education and experiences greatly influenced his literary work. His wide-ranging studies provided him with a vast knowledge base that he drew upon in his poetry and critical essays[2†][1†].

Career Development and Achievements

T. S. Eliot’s career as a poet can be reasonably organized into three periods[5†]. The first coincided with his studies in Boston and Paris, culminating in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” in 1911[5†]. The second coincided with World War I and the financial and marital stress of his early years in London, culminating in The Waste Land in 1922[5†].

Eliot was a leader of the Modernist movement in poetry, and his experiments in diction, style, and versification revitalized English poetry[5†][2†][1†]. In a series of critical essays, he shattered old orthodoxies and erected new ones[5†][2†]. His most notable works include “The Waste Land” (1922), “The Hollow Men” (1925), “Ash Wednesday” (1930), and “Four Quartets” (1943)[5†][2†][1†]. He also had notable success with his verse plays, among them “Murder in the Cathedral” (1935) and “The Cocktail Party” (1949)[5†][4†].

Eliot exercised a strong influence on Anglo-American culture from the 1920s until late in the century[5†][2†][1†]. The publication of “Four Quartets” led to his recognition as the greatest living English poet and man of letters[5†][2†]. In 1948, he was awarded both the Order of Merit and the Nobel Prize for Literature[5†][2†][1†].

Eliot’s career was not only limited to poetry and plays. He was also a literary critic and editor[5†][2†][1†]. His critical essays often reevaluated long-held cultural beliefs[5†][1†]. He was known for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry[5†][1†].

First Publication of His Main Works

T. S. Eliot’s literary contributions spanned various genres, including poetry, plays, and literary criticism[2†][1†]. Here are some of his most notable works:

In addition to his poetry, Eliot also wrote several plays, including “Murder in the Cathedral” (1935) and “The Cocktail Party” (1949), both of which were well-received[2†][1†][6†].

Eliot’s literary criticism, including “Notes Towards the Definition of Culture” (1949), “After Strange Gods” (1934), “The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism” (1933), and “The Sacred Wood” (1920), also had a significant impact on literary theory[2†][7†].

Each of these works contributed to Eliot’s reputation as a leading figure in Modernist poetry and had a profound influence on the literary world[2†][1†].

Analysis and Evaluation

T. S. Eliot’s work has had a profound impact on 20th-century literature. His innovative use of language and form in his poetry, as well as his insightful and influential literary criticism, have cemented his place as one of the leading figures in Modernist literature[8†][9†].

Eliot’s poem “The Waste Land” is considered a modernist masterpiece[8†]. It is a dramatic monologue that changes speakers, locations, and times throughout, drawing on a dizzying array of literary, musical, historical, and popular cultural allusions[8†]. The poem presents the terror, futility, and alienation of modern life in the wake of World War I[8†]. Its rich imagery and intricate symbolism create a haunting portrayal of the human condition[8†][10†].

Eliot’s literary criticism also had a significant impact on literary theory[8†][9†]. He introduced scientific objectivity to critical evaluation by providing comparison and analysis as the two primary tools of criticism[8†][9†]. His evaluations of the Romantic poets such as Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, and Keats are landmarks in descriptive criticism[8†][9†]. T. S. Eliot was praised for his objective approach to critical evaluation, particularly his tools of comparison and analysis[8†][9†].

Eliot’s work has influenced a whole school of critics, including new critics such as F. R. Leavis, and Allen Tate[8†][9†]. His critical writings, including “Notes Towards the Definition of Culture” (1949), “After Strange Gods” (1934), “The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism” (1933), and “The Sacred Wood” (1920), have had a lasting impact on the field[11†].

In conclusion, T. S. Eliot’s contributions to poetry and literary criticism have significantly influenced the field of literature. His innovative approach to form and language in his poetry, along with his insightful and influential literary criticism, have left a lasting legacy[8†][9†][11†][12†][10†].

Personal Life

T. S. Eliot was married twice in his lifetime[13†][14†]. His first marriage was to Vivienne Haigh-Wood in 1915[13†][4†][14†]. The marriage was strained and they separated in 1933[13†][14†]. He later found happiness in his second marriage in 1957[13†][14†].

Eliot worked at a bank in England and later served as the head editor of a famous publishing company in London, now known as Faber and Faber[13†]. His professional life was marked by significant achievements, including winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948[13†].

Despite his professional success, Eliot faced personal challenges. He suffered from emphysema and eventually died of the disease in London[13†].

Eliot’s personal life, like his professional life, was complex and filled with both triumphs and trials. His experiences shaped his writing and left a lasting impact on literature[13†][2†][1†][13†][4†][14†].

Conclusion and Legacy

T. S. Eliot’s influence on 20th-century literature is undeniable[2†][15†]. His innovative poetry, plays, and critical theories continue to impact readers and scholars alike[2†]. Eliot’s critical essays advanced New Criticism, and his complex personal life influenced his themes[2†].

Eliot’s work, particularly “The Waste Land” and “Four Quartets”, revitalized English poetry[2†]. His experiments in diction, style, and versification shattered old orthodoxies and erected new ones[2†]. The publication of “Four Quartets” led to his recognition as the greatest living English poet and man of letters[2†]. In 1948, he was awarded both the Order of Merit and the Nobel Prize for Literature[2†].

Eliot’s legacy extends beyond his literary contributions. He was seen as a champion of the moral imagination in the 20th century[2†][15†]. His work continues to inspire and challenge readers, offering a rich source of intellectual and artistic exploration[2†][15†].

In conclusion, T. S. Eliot’s work has left a lasting impact on literature and culture. His legacy continues to inspire and influence, making him a central figure in the literary world[2†][15†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Wikipedia (English) - T. S. Eliot [website] - link
  2. Britannica - T.S. Eliot: American-English poet, playwright, and literary critic [website] - link
  3. Oxford Bibliographies - T. S. Eliot - American Literature [website] - link
  4. Modern American Poetry - T. S. Eliot [website] - link
  5. Poetry Foundation - T. S. Eliot [website] - link
  6. LitPriest - T. S. Eliot's Writing Style and Short Biography [website] - link
  7. Academy of American Poets - About T. S. Eliot [website] - link
  8. LitCharts - The Waste Land Poem Summary and Analysis [website] - link
  9. London School of Journalism - The literary criticism of Matthew Arnold [website] - link
  10. SparkNotes - Eliot's Poetry: Study Guide [website] - link
  11. Project MUSE - Johns Hopkins University Press - The Complete Prose of T. S. Eliot: The Critical Edition [website] - link
  12. Oxford Academic - None [website] - link
  13. Simple Wikipedia (English) - T. S. Eliot [website] - link
  14. Britannica - T. S. Eliot summary [website] - link
  15. Intercollegiate Studies Institute - The Voice of This Calling: The Enduring Legacy of T. S. Eliot [website] - link
  16. Biography - T.S. Eliot [website] - link
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