The centenary of Eliot's birth in 1988 provided the salutary occasion for a fresh look at his life and work and a reassessment in light of issues raised by the various critical movements - the new historicism, feminism, reader-reception theory - that have succeeded the New Criticism, loosely subsumable under the rubric post-structuralist. The essays assembled here vary in approach, but they share a commitment to the discipline of history and an awareness that history can function as critique as well as celebration. Several contributors take issue with Eliot's self-presentation and include documents Eliot chose not to emphasise. Others address topics including the business of producing culture in twentieth-century writing, the impact of self-professed masculinist poetry on women readers and modernism's social vouchers.
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(228mm x 152mm x 16mm)
Cambridge University Press
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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US Kirkus Review »
"Eliot's power," Bush asserts near the start of this conscientious overview, "is a result not of feeling and intellect working hand-in-glove but of powerful emotion held in powerful check." True, this view is not particularly original. But the tension it describes sets Bush out in a generally fruitful direction. He makes clear how, from The Waste Land (the world through a jaundiced eye) to the dark pessimism and limited compassion of the Four Quartets, Eliot is working as much to numb the reality leaning upon him as to redeem it. And Bush (The Genesis of Pound's Cantos) firmly illustrates how Eliot's literary influences were apparently absorbed - Dante (the Purgatorio, the Vita Nuova), then St. John Perse, Shakespeare, St. John of the Cross, and Mallarme: the transmutation of these elements into Eliot's gleaming classical personalism - a new voice in modern poetry - is lucidly chronicled. (Especially impressive: Bush's analysis of the odd conjuncture of Mallarme and Anglicanism that made the Four Quartets possible.) As a biographical character-study, on the other hand, this is sparse and thready at best. Bush's dry, faintly droning style is also a drawback. Overall, however: a careful, detailed, literary-and-humanistic appreciation - with considerable value for students at various levels. (Kirkus Reviews)
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