3. T.S. Eliot

1. Biography

Thomas Stearns Eliot was born in Missouri in 1888 and he was educated at Harvard. He learned Italian by studying Dante and he devoted one of his most celebrated essays in 1929. 

In 1910 he first went to Europe and studied in Paris at Sorbonne where he attended Herni Bergson’s lectures and he started to read french symbolism. 

In 1915 he married the British ballet dancer Vivien-Haigh-Wood. After the collection of poems ‘Prufrock and Other Observations’ (1917) which established him as an important avant-garde poet, he edited ‘The Criterion’ (1922). 

In 1925 he became a director for the publishers Faber and Faber, publishing all his writings through them and encouraging the production of young poets.

The Waste Land is a long poem published in 1922. 

In 1925 he published ‘The Hollow Men’, a poem read as a sequel to ‘The Waste Land’s’ philosophical despair. In 1927 he became a British citizen and in the same year he joined the Church of England finding the answer to his questions and to the despair of the modern world lacking faith and religion. His poetry bloomed in Ash-Wednesday, Four Quartets and Murder in Cathedral. 

Eliot decided to separate from his wife, who was committed to a mental asylum and she died in 1947. In the 1930s and 1940s Eliot’s essays became concerned with the ethical and philosophical problems of modern society. In 1948 he received the Nobel Prize for Literature. 

He died in London in 1965. 

The impersonality of the artist

Eliot was an influential literary critic: his critical essays on authors, both ancient and modern as well as on the theory of poetry and on the foundation of literary criticism are numerous and of primary importance. 

Most of them are collected in such well-known books as The Sacred Wood, Selected Essays, The Three Voices of Poetry and On Poetry and Poets. 

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