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Complete Poems and Plays,: 1909-1950 [Hardcover]

T. S. Eliot
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin (Jun 1952)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 015121185X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151211852
  • Product Dimensions: 24.3 x 16.4 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 717,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Thomas Stearns Eliot was born in St Louis, Missouri in 1888. He was educated at Harvard, at the Sorbonne in Paris, and at Merton College, Oxford. His early poetry was profoundly influenced by the French symbolists, especially Baudelaire and Laforgue. In his academic studies he specialised in philosophy and logic. His doctoral thesis was on F. H. Bradley.

He settled in England in 1915, the year in which he married Vivienne Haigh-Wood and also met his contemporary Ezra Pound for the first time. After teaching for a year or so he joined Lloyds Bank in the City of London in 1917, the year in which he published his first volume, Prufrock and Other Observations.

In 1919 Poems was hand-printed by Leonard and Virginia Woolf. His first collection of essays, The Sacred Wood, appeared in 1920. His most famous work, The Waste Land, was published in 1922, the same year as James Joyce's Ulysses. The poem was included in the first issue of his journal The Criterion, which he founded and edited.

Three years later he left the bank to become a director of Faber and Gwyer, later Faber and Faber. His Poems 1909-25 was one of the original titles published by Geoffrey Faber's new firm, and the basis of his standard Collected Poems 1909-1962. In 1927 he was received into the Church of England and also became a British citizen. Ash Wednesday was published at Easter 1930.

His masterpiece Four Quartets began with 'Burnt Norton' in 1936, continued with 'East Coker' in 1940, 'The Dry Salvages' in 1941 and 'Little Gidding' in 1942. The separate poems were gathered together as one work in 1943.Eliot's writing for the theatre began with the satirical 'Sweeney Agonistes' fragments.

In 1934 he wrote the London churches' pageant play 'The Rock', the choruses from which are preserved in Collected Poems, and the next year he was commissioned by the Canterbury Festival to write Murder in the Cathedral, about the martyrdom of St Thomas à Beckett. The Family Reunion followed in 1939, when he also published his children's classic, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, the jacket drawn by Eliot himself. (The Possum was Eliot's alias among friends). He later wrote three more verse plays, all of which were premièred at the Edinburgh Festival: The Cocktail Party, The Confidential Clerk and The Elder Statesman. A film of Murder in the Cathedral was shown at the Venice Film Festival in 1951.

Eliot's most important literary criticism is collected in Selected Essays 1917-1932, which he enlarged in 1951. There are a number of other volumes of lectures and essays, among them The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism, For Lancelot Andrewes, On Poetry and Poets, and two works of social criticism - The Idea of a Christian Society and Notes Towards the Definition of Culture. Eliot was appointed to the Order of Merit in January 1948 and in the Autumn was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He married for the second time in 1957, to Valerie Fletcher.

Eliot died in January 1965. There is a memorial to him in Westminster Abbey, beside those to Tennyson and Browning. His ashes are in St Michael's Church, East Coker, the Somerset village from which his ancestor Andrew Eliot emigrated to America in 1667.

After his death his widow edited the long-lost original manuscript of the The Waste Land and a volume of his letters. She also commissioned editions of his early poems Inventions of a March Hare and his Clark and Turnbull lectures The Varieties of Metaphysical Poetry. Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats provided the lyrics for Andrew Lloyd Webber's dance musical Cats, which has been performed all over the world for the past 25 years.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
69 of 70 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The poems of TS Eliot are a spiritual journey from the cynical through the barren to an expected rebirth and the rise of a rich, mature and positive voice. The highlights of the journey are The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Waste Land, Ash Wednesday, Journey of the Magi and Four Quartets. But the scenery by the way-side such as Portrait of a Lady, the Hollow Men, is worth a long visit. Even the minor and unfinished poems have their moments.
As a bonus, this volume contains all of Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. Eliot is here in off duty mode, having fun and allowing his genius for rhythm and language to seep into our minds without demanding our attention.
The plays get better as they go on. Many people only know Eliot's plays for the perennial school classic Murder in the Cathedral. This is a pity because it is the least typical. The Coctail Party is probably the best. To understand what Eliot was doing, though, you really need to read some of his critical writing on drama and on religion.
This book lacks some very necessary apparatus. Translations of the cryptic Greek and Italian quotations would be helpful. Of course, enormous volumes have been written detailing all the references in the Waste Land, and we are better off not having them in this master copy.
Ultimately, this is the most economical and useful way of acquiring Eliot's published creative works - but remember that Eliot the critic was as great as Eliot the poet, and probably greater than Eliot the playwright. To understand him, read first his critical writings before you go on to what others have written about Eliot.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Things fall apart 19 Sep 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is great to be able to purchase a complete works from the author's original publisher. One does not expect full annotation, great typography or the best binding but the sad fact is that the pages of this volume fall out at the mearest hint of repeat reading, as happened for me with Four Quartets. If you want to actually read Eliot find something else. The book can't be faulted, but the product just doesn't do the job.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eliot in one handy text 27 Sep 2011
There are many anthologies and selected works of Eliot's poems but there is nothing quite like having all of his plays and poetry in one text and this one is ideal. It is also the most sensible and economical way to buy his plays and poems; buy individual anthologies would cost considerably more and, undoubtedly, have omissions.

The collection is vast and, reading through the contents, one sees writings one had forgotten. Like one other reviewer, one omission I think worth correcting in future editions is the lack of translations of some of his more obscure quotations but this is a small criticism.

There are many critical works worth keeping handy, e.g. "A Student's Guide to the Selected Poems of T. S. Eliot" [Paperback]
B.C. Southam, ISBN-13: 978-0571170821.

I would also recommend buying the CDs of Eliot reading his own work. Others do it well but none as good as TS himself.

T.S. Eliot Reads: "The Wasteland", "Four Quartets", and "Other Poems" [Audiobook] [Audio CD] ISBN-13: 978-0007202638
T.S. Eliot Reads: "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" ISBN-13: 978-1907907050

Also recommended: "The Waste Land Facsimile: A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Drafts" [Paperback]
T.S. Eliot , Valerie Eliot ISBN-13: 978-0571254507 - it seems to bring the creative process nearer

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Works of author complete 1 April 2011
By P. A. Pendrey VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book contains all the plays and poems of T.S. Eliot. Some of the works are quite complex to understand and some are written in Latin and French and some Greek. It would have been nice if the foreign language ones could have been translated in a separate chapter. A good set of explanatory notes would also have been useful. A highly interesting book for any student of the poets.
An interesting read to make you think. Wish the foreign language poems were translated so they can be appreciated.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good for the multilingual 2 Sep 2010
Great to have a complete collection and faber should be congratulated but.... As a previous reviewer noted, there are no translations provided. This is a major problem as entire poems are in french (I think) and other poems have quotes and introductions in French, Greek, Latin, Italian(?), etc.
Glad I got this collection but will now need to get other editions with the poems and passages translated.
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keep finding fresh gems each time I open a page at random. Also very useful as source of good chapter headings.
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5.0 out of 5 stars . Essential source for studying T S Eliot 27 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A comprehensive source of Eliot's poetry and dramatic works. The edition is of a fine quality, but ubnfotunatelly contains some brutal ink written notes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars great 11 Mar 2014
By j reed
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
some of the best poems of the last century. some lines will stay with me throughout my life - moving music.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars unmissable classic
I own both kindle and paperback versions. Comprehensive edition - very practical for fans. Light on commentary or footnotes. Author needs no review... Must-know.
Published 5 days ago by Suzie Bennett
5.0 out of 5 stars Representative volume
It always nice to have all works in one volume. If you like Eliot's poetry, there's everything: from Prufrock to Cats, plus dramas like Murder in the Cathedral.
Published 10 days ago by Harry
5.0 out of 5 stars Cannot even begin to praise this wonderful edition of sublime poetry
Cannot even begin to praise this wonderful edition of sublime poetry. It arrived on time, and in perfect condition. Thank you as always.
Published 12 days ago by Michael Roy Mason
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Elliot
pristine volume and fantastic value delivered quickly one of the best on Amazon
Published 22 days ago by Stephan Jenkins
5.0 out of 5 stars if you love Eliot, buy it
Its great to have the poems and plays together in one volume. Those who have gone beyond a first encounter with Eliot will want this, and will not regret ease of reference, as... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Adam Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Uni. text restored
An excellent anthology of the the complete poetry of T. S. Eliot. It is a pleasure to be able to read selected writings when one desires. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Michiel IRIK
5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate to share religious experience with all of humanity
This rating should be superfluous. The book is a new edition (in the right format and editing, chosen a long time ago by Eliot himself). Read more
Published 16 months ago by M. Fahrenfort
4.0 out of 5 stars The Cat Poems are included :-)
A complete version and a desirable addition to our collection of literature. We bought it for the Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats which is not always included in Eliot... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Benji
5.0 out of 5 stars No fault
I like the book since,
-It is his complete work
-The book itself is built and presented impressively. Read more
Published on 28 Jan 2012 by Henri
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