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T.S. Eliot

As one of the most famous poets of the 20th century, T.S Eliot stands apart from many of his peers due to his new and unique approach to employing the principles of modernism in his writing, despite the quantity of poetry being relatively small. The literature writers at Paper Masters can write research on T.S. Eliot or any author that you need explicated.

While he was born in the United States, Eliot moved to England at the age of 25, ultimately giving up his American citizenship to become a British subject. His appreciation and fondness for literature started at a very early age, as an illness prevented him from socialization and he turned to literature to address his isolation. For his contributions to modern poetry, Eliot would ultimately be given the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948.

A few of Eliot's more famous works are:

  1. The Wasteland
  2. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
  3. Notes Towards the Definition of Culture

Thomas Stearns Eliot wrote poetry and plays that made him one of the most important figures in English literature of the twentieth century. He also contributed to the cultural and literary scene as a critic and thinker during his life time, especially in the 1920's. The Modernist movement produced writers who contributed greatly to the body of English literary work, and Eliot is considered a leader of this important time in literature. Eliot was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1888, but became a citizen of Britain where he lived for most of his adult life.

The works of Eliot are filled with symbols and allusion that add brilliance to his writing. This great writer drew from myth, history and religion for his themes and plots which make some of his work difficult to understand. His rich pieces engage readers because of the fundamental questions these raise about the spiritual and moral conditions of his fellow human beings, their hopes, their dreams and their struggles.

Two of his most famous poems, "The Wasteland" and "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" portrayed the bleak conditions of the world at the time of their creation. His poetic dramas, "The Cocktail Party" and "Murder in the Cathedral" are often performed, but he is most acclaimed for his poetry. His literary criticism of playwrights of the time was important to the other writers of the era. In 1948, Eliot received the Nobel Prize for Literature and published his important critical work entitled "Notes Towards the Definition of Culture".

Arguably his most famous work, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" follows a stream-of-consciousness style of writing, a common element in many pieces of modernist writing. The feelings displayed by the narrator include that of intellectual stagnation, missed opportunities in his physical as well as his spiritual life, embarrassment, longing, and an awareness of his own mortality. Eliot's writing in this piece is indicative of the changing themes of literature from those of the Romantic era to those of modern literature. Eliot's poem "The Waste Land" follows a similar tone of isolation and despair, this those is largely attributed to the cultural and social decline that followed World War I. Eliot would also dedicated much of his later career to writing plays, usually comedies; one such play, "The Cocktail Party," would earn him a Tony Award.

It is easiest for many to identify with the ideas of the Romantic era and an appreciation for what nature provides to man. Although society would most likely seemed closer aligned to Modernism in this age of technology and the self, many personally appreciate the thoughts of Wordsworth rather than the modernist thinking of men like T.S. Elliot. In the last section of "The Wasteland," Eliot makes clear the importance of man's relationship with himself. He writes, "Turn in the door once and turn once only/ We think of the key, each in his prison/ Thinking of the key, each confirms a prison" (Eliot 411-413). The key and door in this passage represent man's separation from others through the confines of his own mind. The key that unlocks the door is man's understanding of himself. From this, readers understand that man's relationship with nature or society must be less important than man's understanding of himself because without that understanding, man can engage with neither of the others. I heartily disagree.

Eliot sees the irony of the world around him. In his poem "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" Eliot examines the world around him and is, in many respects, distraught by what he sees. "Prufrock" which deals with the lives of spiritless people in the modern city relies so much on irony that the poem almost borders on sarcasm. For instance, several lines in the poem reveal that Eliot believes man is powerless to change his world around him. What is perhaps most interesting about this powerlessness, however, is not the fact that the immobility is induced by society; it is that man himself is too apathetic to change his own life. As a result, man goes about his life in a ubiquitous manner that Eliot has seen time and time again:

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? (Eliot, "The Love").

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