43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on 28 June 2010
This was the first book of poetry I ever bought. This exact edition. Wandering into Waterstones aged 14, my only previous experience with "adult" poetry being (because I was a moody teenage girl, and it's somewhat required of us) Sylvia Plath, I was initially attracted to "The Waste Land" because I thought it sounded dark and grand and apocalyptic. That, and because I was pretty sure Eliot wrote The Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats that I vaguely remembered reading as a child.
I was right on both counts. But it was hard going. "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" was difficult, but It took me four tries to get through the first section of "The Waste Land". I felt frustrated. I remember reading the whole poem through and simply saying "...What?" aloud to my room at three in the morning. But still, phrases leapt out at me: "A heap of broken images, where the sun beats...", "...I could not speak, and my eyes failed. I was neither living nor dead, and I knew nothing"... "Thinking of the key, each confirms a prison"... Although I didn't understand it, it was so beautiful that I had to keep reading, and gradually, meaning came. As I grew, so did my understanding of the poem, and my knowledge of the literature that Eliot slips into his work: when I first realised that "But at my back I always hear / the sound of horns and motors" was a reference to Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress" I felt like an archaeologist discovering a link between two ancient cultures on opposite sides of the globe. The first time I spotted Hamlet in there it felt like coming home. And now, even though I can recite passages by heart and wrote my A-level coursework on "The Waste Land", I still find something new whenever I read it.
Eliot knows and understands human nature so well, but seems unable to fully commit himself to it. His poetry is full of the self-conscious awkwardness of the outsider, and the exasperation of one who looks polite society in all its sordid pride and feels cheapened. He is a champion of modernist poetry and the writer of an age.
64 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on 9 April 2008
I give the book itself 5 stars. I don't have any comments to add to those already made, but did want to point out one thing:
don't be misled by the 'product description', as I was, which you get when viewing the details for this book on Amazon, which states:
Introduction to the text
Summaries with critical notes
Themes and techniques
Textual analysis of key passages
Historical and literary background
Modern and historical critical approaches
Glossary of literary terms --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
This description DOES NOT describe the book - none of these are included (there are a few notes on The Wasteland, but that is it).
If you click on the word 'paperback' it takes you to another page showing a book of York Notes - this is what the 'product description' is describing.
39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on 8 January 2007
Eliot's poetry is not for the faint hearted. This collection consits of a range of his poetry from 1917 to 1930.The most famous of course, 'The Waste Land' is all in here. Anyone familiar with the Modernist movenment of the 1920s will easily see why 'The Waste Land' is a firm contender for one of the best pieces of Modernist Literature. It depicts a world that is decaying, spine-less, fruit-less and corrupt. 'The Waste Land' is a very personal analysis of Modern post-war life and I think it's easy to feel that his poetry can be slightly insular, in that it's quite difficult to understand what Eliot is trying to convey to the public, if anything.
However, there are some easier poems in here, with 'The Love song of J.Alfred Prufrock' coming in as one of my top pieces of poetry because of Eliot's striking word play.
I'd really recommend you read this because I think although it's rather personal to Eliot himself, I think it's equally personal to the individual reader, and there will be something in here that attracts you personally to his poetry.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 18 July 2012
A must for all lovers of literature. These poems may seem baffling at first, but after having explored them in detail you will literally begin to see everything around you in a different way. Eliot was a genius whom arguably defined the Modernist movement and the post-war condition. I would have liked to have seen the Four Quartets included as well, but I suppose he personally chose this selection himself. The edition itself is compact and stylish, but without an introduction or notes on the poems except for 'The Waste Land'.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
The Wasteland is a poem that has been severely edited by the `superior craftsman' Pound. We have a poem in five sections in free verse, freighted with erudition, literary allusions, quotations, cribbing lines from old poems, Dante,Shakespeare, Spenser, Marvell, Goldsmith, Baudelaire, Wagner, Nerval,Augustine and Buddha. He mingles a line from Marvel with snatched overheard conversation or a fragment of stage dialogue to produce an effect as of an orchestra tuning up.He has transformed bits and pieces of cultural scrap into a new broken, dissonant form.The title comes from Jessie L.Weston's From Ritual to Romance on the grail legend. The allusion is to the wounding of the Fisher King and the subsequent sterility of his lands.
We know Eliot had had a breakdown and had taken leave from work when he wrote The Waste Land. There is a merging of the personal and the political. With Eliot's desire to escape from his personality through detachment in his work, he uses impersonality. The technique where variations of mental state are depicted through various personae and voices is radically experimental. We have a fractured narrative, changing voices and tonal shifts and we cannot identify who the voices are: who `we' `us' or `I' is.Through the indolence of illness he tapped the depths of his subconscious.This also comes after the First World War.
We need to remember Eliot is a major dramatic poet(his most experimental work is Sweeney Agonistes)using dramatic monologue, dramatic meditation, striving to grasp a metaphysical condition that could be called religious in a world that knew nothing of it at a time when Eliot was non-Christian. He draws on the mythical method he admires in Ulysses, but the result is incoherent and messy. We also get voices from the music-hall, like the Victorian novel, a dying form with the rise of cinema, with Eliot doing a `turn'.
What unifies everything is the subtle music of the soul, a passive undriven music of Eliot's best poetry. As Leavis said:" The unity the poem aims at is that of an inclusive consciousness: the organisation it achieves as a work of art is...an organization that may, by analogy, be called musical". Poetry to Eliot approximates to the experience of listening to music. The notes, the intellectual apparatus, the references, the allusions, need to be dropped to appreciate this poem. He said poetry could communicate even before it was understood. Beautiful poem that it is, I tend to believe that Yeats, holding to traditional forms has, in the longer run, in the 20th century, been much more influential.
After the pre-Christian modernist spurt of The Wasteland there was then the Eliot of the Four Quartets, the High
Anglican who believed that the Church was going to lead Europe out of the disruptions and darkness of the Thirties. And then, after he'd won the Nobel Prize in 1948, there was a much calmer and more confident Eliot altogether. Prufrock ,his early poem is also a great favorite with some startling imagery and sly humour.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 August 2014
My review is specifically about the presentation of the published book, not on the content! I was looking for a beautiful real ink-and-paper edition of TS Eliot, and in our day and age of ipads and kindles and unlimited free content, the quality of , well, paper and ink, was important for me to justify using up one more space on my space-constrained bookshelf. The standard is Everyman editions... and this Faber & Faber 80th anniversary did not live up. Paper is thick and low quality, the overall "feel" of the book is decidedly cheap. I ended up returning the book to Amazon.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 21 July 2011
There is poetry before Eliot and poetry after Eliot. Both can be excellent but they are not the same and there are very few writers of any form that have so influenced so many people. This is the way the world ends ...
on 2 December 2013
For anyone who likes modern poetry; this is where it all begins. By far the most towering figure in poetry in the last century (or more) high up there with the likes of Homer and Dante, inimitable, unique. Lines like 'I will show you fear in a handful of dust' stick in your bones.
A must read.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 18 October 2009
The book itself consists of a good-quality hardcover, and whilst the cover illustration isn't that good, the main merit of this edition is that it combines portability with durability at a cheap price.
The poems contained are probably the best ever written and certainly the greatest I have ever read. T. S. Eliot manages to make the poems sound as if they had been written only yesterday rather than in the 1920s, and this modernity combined with the epic almost biblical language used is a key feature of the poems. Classic lines such as `April is the cruellest month' and `I will show you fear in a handful of dust' will stay with you and you can easily read the poems again and again. Many of them take the forms of streams of consciousness and include brilliant language contrasted with a more everyday Larkin style in a style distinctively the poet's own, yet including lines in a variety of languages and also referencing other works.
Although some may dislike the poems for perhaps being hard to get into they're worth the attempt and include some of the most memorable lines ever written in English. For this price T.s. Eliot's poems are definetly worth getting into.
23 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on 15 October 2002
This is a fantastic book from the greatest poet of the 2oth century. I am a 16 year-old and having just started A level courses, ihave found that my readings of Eliot have helped enormously with my understanding of other poetry. I would argue that if one can come some way to understanding Eliot, then there is nothing out there that one will not understand. He is known for his complexity but this must not be labelled impenetrable, though Eliot's poems are often obscure and challenging there is always a message that Eliot wanted us to see. I have been reading Eliot since I was 15 and my liking of him has grown with age, I also love the victorian poets such as Browning, Empson, Baudelaire, Blake etc and many of the modern poets such as Thomas, Plath and so on but I have always found that there is something extra special about Eliot. His range of poetry is one thing, from the masterpiece of "The Waste Land" to the phillisophical genuis of "Four Quartets", to the humour and sadness of "Prufrock" to the mystery and brilliance of "The Hollow Men" Eliot has everything. I think his poetry is widely mis-understood and critics argue over meaning and miss the point that Eliot placed one's own perception so much higher than accepted views and ideas, hence the fact that he never answered questions on "The Waste Land". Definately buy this book and make up your own mind, learn and gain pleasure from a truly remarkable mind.