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The Use of Poetry [Paperback]

T.S. Eliot
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

6 July 1987
The 1932-33 Norton Lectures are among the best and most important of Eliot's critical writings. Tracing the rise of literary self-consciousness from the Elizabethan period to his own day, Eliot does not simply examine the relation of criticism to poetry, but invites us to "start with the supposition that we do not know what poetry is, or what it does or ought to do, or of what use it is; and try to find out, in examining the relation of poetry to criticism, what the use of both of them is" Eliot begins with the appearance of poetry criticism in the age of Dryden, when poetry became the province of an intellectual aristocracy rather than part of the mind and popular tradition of a whole people. Wordsworth and Coleridge, in their attempt to revolutionize the language of poetry at the end of the eighteenth century, made exaggerated claims for poetry and the poet, culminating in Shelley's assertion that "poets are the unacknowledged legislators of mankind" And, in the doubt and decaying moral definitions of the nineteenth century, Arnold transformed poetry into a surrogate for religion. By studying poetry and criticism in the context of its time, Eliot suggests that we can learn what is permanent about the nature of poetry, and makes a powerful case for both its autonomy and its pluralism in this century.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; 2Rev Ed edition (6 July 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057105871X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571058716
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.6 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 190,749 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.

Product Description

About the Author

Thomas Stearns Eliot was born in St Louis, Missouri, in 1888. He came to England in 1914 and published his first book of poems in 1917. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948. Eliot died in 1965.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism 23 Dec 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
A fanastic, stimulating book, covering poetry and criticism from the Elizabethan to the Modern age. In these essays Eliot dedicates himself to his subject with unusal lack of "ifs and buts" (to invoke his own, all too accaurate description of himself in a poem). The book is full of challenging thought: perhaps most of all about writing poetry in general, and the development of the poet. These, as well as being very influential, also have the force that only a practising poet's statements can have -- if, of course, the poet has Eliot's gift for searching self-analysis.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Insightful Work On Poetry 17 Jun 2000
By CHONG EU CHOONG - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Most of us are afraid of poems because as we read it, we can't seem to make head or tails as to what we have read. Therefore, for those of us who have "poem-phobia," I recommend this delightful little work.
In this work, Eliot ask the question of what is poetry and the use of criticism in poetry as well as the relationship between the former and the latter.
Eliot proposes to start the enquiry by reviewing the history of criticism starting from Elizabethan era untill that of his time. Through the course of the exploration, I was enthralled by Eliot's insightful opinion of critics and their opinion as to what is poetry and its uses.
I was particularly drawn to the final chapter of his work which does not offer any final word to the questions which he posed but rather giving us advice as to how to read poems (in particular the modern poets, i.e., 20th century). I was very glad to have read this work because it sure beats reading a heavy college text on how to read poetry.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alphabet Blocks 7 Oct 2012
By Louis J. Profeta - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
When very young, being the first child, I have to admit I was selfish. On entering those first years of school my blocks were off limits, a play on words yes. Later in my creative endeavors blocks were a part of life, same as the seasons, really. Few had patience for my blocks, I told the wife it was snowing, call the office, I'm staying in bed a few days as I must think some about spring and sparrows!We are no longer together, she never understood, rest!Blocks being a part of Nature, snow melts into spring flowerings, garSister Carrie (Oxford World's Classics)dens of strawberries and step-up graduations from colleges, new beginnings. Elsie remarried a bookmaker!
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