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Eliot, Thomas Stearns. (1888 - 1965).

L i f e

- settled in England after the outbreak of WW I, became a British subject and member of the Church of England (1927)

W o r k

< influenced by the Metaphysical poets, Jacobean dramatists, French Symbolists, Italian Renaissance, Indian mystical philosophy, and the Bible

- uses unexplained juxtapositions, allusiveness, suggestive symbols, irony, wit, and colloquial element

- builds up his own body of imagery, symbolism, and references to supply the no more existing common cultural heritage

C r i t i c i s m :

“Tradition and the Individual Talent” (1917):

- defines and prescribes historical, religious, and literary traditions

- ‘no poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone’ x but: only in relation to a larger tradition

“The Metaphysical Poets” (1921):

- justifies the contortions of John Donne’s poetry

- perceives a divine order beyond the physical evidence of disorder

P o e t r y :

Prufrock and Other Observations (1917):

> “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”:

- a disconcerting and subtly evasive monologue, set in a symbolic landscape

- plays with politeness, failures of comprehension, and despair 

The Waste Land (1922):

- edited by Ezra Pound into 5 interrelated sections with separate titles

- explores the corruption of a physical and figuratively urban desert

- plays with juxtaposition, inconsistency of perception, multiplicity of narration, and fluidity of time and place

- concludes with a series of quotations and his own line amid them: ‘These fragments I have shored against my ruins’

Ash Wednesday (1930):

- examines the aspects of religious doubt, discovery, and revelation

- celebrates the wonder at the epiphanies of a Christian God

Four Quartets (1943):

- relates each of the four poems to a specific place

- further examines religious moods and the heritage of human sinfulness

V e r s e  D r a m a :

Sweeney Agonistes (1926):

- experiments with ritual, masks, dance, and music

Murder in the Cathedral (1935):

- the most successful x the least experimental of his plays

- concerned with the murder of Archbishop Becket

The Family Reunion (1939):

- concerned with guilt and redemption in a modern upper-class family

- combines the chorus from Greek tragedy and drawing-room conversation


(Photo: Geocities com).

  • Author

    Thomas Stearns Eliot. (1888 - 1965). American. British citizen since 1927.
  • Work

    Poet. Playwright. Critic. Author of The Waste Land (1922). Nobel Prize winner (1948).  
  • Genres

    Modernism. Poetry and drama. 


Abrams, Meyer Howard, ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1993.

Barnard, Robert. Stručné dějiny anglické literatury. Praha: Brána, 1997.

Baugh, Albert C. ed. A Literary History of England. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1967.

Coote, Stephen. The Penguin Short History of English Literature. London: Penguin, 1993.

Sampson, George. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1946.

Sanders, Andrew. The Short Oxford History of English Literature. New York: Clarendon Press, 1994.

Poems of Distinction

"Portrait of a Lady" (1915)

"Sweeney Among the Nightingales" (1920)

"The Hippopotamus" (1920)

"The Hollow Men" (1925)


"This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper." 

From "The Hollow Men" (1925).


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