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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on 2 May 2003
For anyone who ever had trouble understanding The Waste Land - not to mention Eliot's other poems - this book is more than useful, it's ESSENTIAL. Truly brilliant - giving an in-depth explanation of each of the (very) many allusions in The Waste Land. For students writing essays - indeed for anyone who wants to "understand" or know more about Eliot's often impenetrable poetry - this is the book.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 22 January 2000
B.C. Southam, I'm sure has relieved the confusion that many people have felt when studying T.S. Eliot. As an English student,never having studied Eliot's work, I would have been at a total loss had it not been for the user-friendly "Student's Guide", and the thorough explanation of each poem, which previously had little meaning to me. This book is the best companion when reading Eliot that your money could buy!
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 7 February 2009
Having studied T.S. Eliot for the first time recently as part of a 20th Century Literature course I would say that B.C. Southam's guide was indispensable to me. Particularly as I am a part-time 'mature' student who works full time and I don't often have the luxury of spending the hours that I'd like to look over academic articles and sources.

Eliot is not the easiest of poets to understand (...let alone master), his use of allusion and his 'elitist' approach is quite intimidating to any new student...I wasn't the only one on the course that had trouble with him! - - B.C. Southam was recommended by my tutor as a highly respected and much revised guide for undergraduate study.

Don't get me wrong, you can read Eliot's poetry without Southam's guide and appreciate the vivid imagery, the construction of the 'free-verse', the amalgamation of poetic forms and the way the poems sound/feel when you read them. But Southam's guide adds the historical context, a path through the dense allusive material & helps you to understand the depth of literary history contained within the poems. It also explains a little bit about the modernist principles that guided Eliot as a writer and the influence wielded by his family history, his student days, his unhappy first marriage and his mentor Ezra Pound.

I could not have studied Eliot effectively without Southams's guide - this is why I feel the book deserves 5 stars (...that and the fact that I got far better marks than I had expected!).
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 12 June 2009
B C Southam's work in tracing and expanding on the many references and allussions in Eliot's work is astonishingly in depth. Each work has before it a description of when and where it was written, over how long and with what other texts in mind. Southam has compiled such a rich and detailed collection of texts that feed into the Selected Poems, allowing the causal Eliot reader as much as someone studying his poetry to dip in and out of this easy to use accompaniment.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 13 November 2009
This is a superb book, well worth the money for anyone wishing to gain a better picture of T.S. Eliot's work. The guide does not necessarily explain the meaning of the poems, this job is sensibly left for the reader, however it does illuminate the majority of the refernces and considerable number of allusions in Eliot's poetry. Whether this helps in 'understanding' the poetry itself is debatable, but there is no doubt that it is essentail for anyone writing critical essays on his work. The book is well structured, clear and simple to use. There is not a great deal of technical jargon which helps in this regrad, while ensuring that there is ample detail supported by biographical evidence.
Overall, This is an immensely useful book.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 November 2011
Southam's guide is an invaluable aid for anyone interested in understanding the background to Eliot's poetry and in particular the allusions contained in the poetry.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 4 March 2013
The guide gives a lot of notes but no interpretations. For me Eliot was a plagiarist and his poetry is a one big collage of quotations. Not sure if he even wrote one verse which was "his own". But famous. Sign of the times.
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0 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 19 January 2012
The reason I ordered this book, was borrowed from my expectation from the books, Cambridge has for Shakespeare's plays; One page text and one page discussions.
This book does not have any poem or Play of T.S Eliot. It is what is says; a Guide. You need all the plays and poems in hand and have this book for further information.
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