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T. S. Eliot: A Short Biography

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T. S. Eliot: A Short Biography

By John Worthen

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Format: Paperback, 320 pages
Other Information: Illustrated
Published In: United Kingdom, 01 June 2011
Biographical writing about Eliot is in a more confused and contested state than is the case with any other major twentieth-century writer. No major biography has been released since the publication of his early poems, "Inventions of the March Hare," in 1996, which radically altered the reading public's perception of Eliot. There have been attempts to turn the American woman Emily Hale into the beloved woman of Eliot's middle years; and Eliot has also been blamed for the instability of his first wife and declared a closet homosexual. This biography frees Eliot from such distortions, as well as from his cold and unemotional image. It offers a sympathetic study of his first marriage which does not attempt to blame, but to understand; it shows how Eliot's poetry can be read for its revelations about his inner world. Eliot once wrote that every poem was an epitaph, meaning that it was the inscription on the tombstone of the experience which it commemorated. His poetry shows, however, that the deepest experiences of his life would not lie down and die, and that he felt condemned to write about them.

About the Author

John Worthen is the acclaimed author of D. H. Lawrence: The Life of an Outsider.


Reviewed in 2010 May CHOICE. 'An accomplished biographer who knows how to go straight to the issues, Worthen (emer., Univ. of Nottingham, UK) contributed immensely to D. H. Lawrence studies with his D. H. Lawrence (CH, Sep'06, 44-0195) and other titles. He has also written a biography of the Romantic poets (The Gang, CH, Sep'01, 39-0195) and Robert Schumann: Life and Death of a Musician (CH, Feb'08, 45-3118). Here he reinforces some of the usual stories--Eliot's family, health difficulties, friendships--and also revises some of the biographical understanding of Eliot by addressing controversies and issues surrounding Eliot's life, e.g., Eliot as an unsympathetic husband and as anti-Semitic. Though he brings little new to the discussion, Worthen uses good biographical sources and relies on the poetry, plays, and prose to provide clues to a life that Eliot deliberately obscured. The book's brevity is its advantage: it brings relevant, useful information to the first-time student of Eliot and invigorates the idea that a life can be read many ways in retrospect. Those looking for more will want to seek out the second volume of The Letters of T. S. Eliot, ed. by Valerie Eliot (2009), which provides insights on such subjects as homosexuality, misogyny, and eroticism. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and general readers.' -- L. L. Johnson, Lewis & Clark College CHOICE Magazine 20100501

EAN: 9781906598860
ISBN: 190659886X
Publisher: Haus Pub.
Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.7 x 2.79 centimetres (0.39 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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