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T.S. Eliot: A Guide for the Perplexed (Guides for the Perplexed) [Paperback]

Steve Ellis

Price: 12.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

25 Jun 2009 184706017X 978-1847060174 1
This is a concise and clear guide to the complexities of T. S. Eliot's poetry, with easy to follow structure and chapters on Eliot's major texts, all in chronological order. T. S. Eliot is one of the most celebrated twentieth-century poets and one whose work is practically synonymous with perplexity. Eliot is perceived as extremely challenging due to the multi-lingual references and fragmentation we find in his poetry and his recurring literary allusions to writers including Dante, Shakespeare; Marvell, Baudelaire and Conrad. There is an additional difficulty for today's readers that Eliot probably didn't envisage: the widespread unfamiliarity with the Christian belief and culture that his work becomes increasingly steeped in. Steve Ellis introduces Eliot's work by using his extensive prose writings to illuminate the poetry. As a major critic, as well as poet, Eliot was highly conscious of the challenges his poetry set, of its relation and difference to the work of previous poets, and of the ways in which the activity of reading was problematised by his work, so by taking his prose as a starting point helps to clarify his poetic writing. The guide also offers an overview of key critical debates concerning Eliot's work. "Continuum's Guides for the Perplexed" are clear, concise and accessible introductions to thinkers, writers and subjects that students and readers can find especially challenging - or indeed downright bewildering. Concentrating specifically on what it is that makes the subject difficult to grasp, these books explain and explore key themes and ideas, guiding the reader towards a thorough understanding of demanding material.

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"Among the innumerable Eliot guides on the market, this is the one to start with. Avoiding the all too common approaches to this notoriously perplexing poet - allusion hunting and step-by-step explication - Steve Ellis unlocks the poetry with Eliot's own extensive prose writings as his main key. The result is illuminating for beginner and Eliot aficionado alike. The binary opposites at the centre of Eliot's oeuvre, tradition versus innovation, conservative versus radical, 'ideal' versus actuality, belief versus scepticism, are addressed with freshness and clarity. Ellis traces both the continuities and contrasts running through Eliot's poetic development. He deals deftly with important influences, Laforgue, Baudelaire, Dante, in accounts of the poetry full of original insight and argument, while efficiently familiarising newcomers with critical cruxes and contentious issues (misogyny, anti-semitism). He has particularly perceptive things to say about the development of Eliot's poetic style, from the 'witty' to the deliberate, from the self-possessed to the ascetic. There are many other things to admire in this guide, but in particular all Eliot scholars will henceforth need to take account of Ellis's persuasive argument about the thorny issue of the relationship between The Waste Land and its 'Notes'."- Dr Gareth Reeves, Durham University, UK

About the Author

Steve Ellis is Professor of English at the University of Birmingham, UK and is also a poet and translator. His publications include The English Eliot (Routledge, 1991), Chaucer: An Oxford Guide (OUP, 2005) and Virginia Woolf and the Victorians (CUP 2007).

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