T. S. Eliot

T. S. Eliot, photographed one Sunday afternoon...
T. S. Eliot, photographed one Sunday afternoon in 1923 by Lady Ottoline Morrell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

T. S. Eliot (Thomas Stearns Eliot 1888-1965) was a British poet and writer born in St. Louis, USA. He studied at Harvard and Paris and after a year at Oxford decided to remain in the UK, as advised by Ezra Pound. He held teaching and banking jobs before being hired as the director of Faber Books.

His first book of poetry, “Prufrock and Other Observations” (1917) was published with Pound’s backing. Bertrand Russel introduced it to the Bloomsbury Circle. Next came “The Waste Land” (1922) and “The Hollow Men” (1925). Perhaps no one quite knows the meaning of this latter poem, which ends with a bleak vision of the world ending “not with a bang but a whimper.” A cold and morbid view, it nonetheless carries a somewhat disjointed sense of fascination.

Later works by Eliot portray warmer, Christian themes. By the time of “Ash Wednesday,” he had joined the so-called ‘Anglo-Catholic’ Church in England, finding new spiritual meaning to fill a former void. “Ash Wednesday” portrays the ideal human as a humble servant of the divine instead of a disturbed or disillusioned seeker suspended in a chilling fantasy.

Eliot received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948.



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