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Eliot at smokefall

Barbara Everett, 24 January 1985

... Hastings’s play, Tom and Viv, and the other the publication of Peter Ackroyd’s biography, T.S. Eliot. They of course share a subject, the poet himself. But this choice of subject, the life of the writer with perhaps the biggest public image of any in our time, suggests something else they have in common. These two works are in one way more alike than might ...

Rectum

Christopher Ricks, 18 October 1984

Tough guys don’t dance 
by Norman Mailer.
Joseph, 231 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 7181 2454 5
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... and murder, knows its own strength. The strength is essentially dramatic, but decanted. T.S. Eliot envied the Jacobean dramatists: The ideal condition is that under which everything, except what only the individual genius can supply, is provided for the poet. A framework is provided. We do not mean ‘plot’; a poet may incorporate, adapt or invent as ...

It Rhymes

Michael Wood, 6 April 1995

The Wild Party 
by Joseph Moncure March, with drawings by Art Spiegelman .
Picador, 112 pp., £9.99, November 1994, 0 330 33656 8
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... make even readers who have no time for poetry stop dead in their tracks.’ It’s true that T.S. Eliot said, in ‘East Coker’, that ‘the poetry does not matter,’ but he can’t have been pushing for stuff like this: His mouth and his throat were foul cotton. God, he felt rotten! Or: His mouth twitched: He was dangerously still, By an enormous power ...

Why didn’t he commit suicide?

Frank Kermode: Reviewing T.S. Eliot, 4 November 2004

T.S. EliotThe Contemporary Reviews 
by Jewel Spears Brooker.
Cambridge, 644 pp., £80, May 2004, 0 521 38277 7
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... what the editor describes as ‘the most comprehensive collection of contemporary reviews of T.S. Eliot’s work as it appeared’. There are other such collections, but this one will be enough for most people. The editor is American, and she is contributing to a series which gives the same treatment to Emerson, Edith Wharton, Ellen ...

You’ve listened long enough

Colin Burrow: The Heaneid, 21 April 2016

Aeneid: Book VI 
translated by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 53 pp., £14.99, March 2016, 978 0 571 32731 7
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... inform and rebuke him. Heaney implicitly presented himself as kin to Dante or Aeneas, or to T.S. Eliot in Dantesque prophetic mode: a poet who could absorb and transform voices from his own and from the literary past. But he combined that self-aggrandisement with a powerful dose of guilt. The imperial poets Dante and Virgil were unsettling doubles for a poet ...

Short Cuts

Deborah Friedell: First Impressions, 16 August 2007

... inspection, the poems didn’t stand up. They’re not embarrassing – just too indebted to T.S. ...

Bouvard and Pécuchet

C.H. Sisson, 6 December 1984

The Lyttelton Hart-Davis Letters: Correspondence of George Lyttelton and Rupert Hart-Davis. 
edited by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Murray, 193 pp., £13.50, April 1984, 0 7195 4108 5
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... anything in the wide field in which he has interested himself. We even find him advising T.S. Eliot to refuse ‘that ridiculous award’, the Companion of Literature, offered by that ‘miserable institution’ the Royal Society of Literature. He was a member of the General Advisory Council of the BBC as well as a spirit it would surely be right to call ...

Big Ben

Stephen Fender, 18 September 1986

Franklin of Philadelphia 
by Esmond Wright.
Harvard, 404 pp., £21.25, May 1986, 0 674 31809 9
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... and re-inventing him according to our predilections. Franklin is a phenomenon very like what T.S. Eliot called a classic – entailing, to use Frank Kermode’s words in his book of that name, ‘the paradox that there is an identity but that it changes.’ Thus an American woman academic reviewing this book has drawn her readers’ attention to his marrying ...

Diary

Ian Hamilton: I ♥ Concordances, 22 August 1996

... What was T.S. Eliot’s favourite colour? Which season – summer, autumn, winter, spring – would you expect to feature most often in the works of Philip Larkin? And which of these two poets would you reckon was the more self-centred, fond of flowers, susceptible to hyphens, keen on using the word mother? Such are the questions that can spin off from too many hours spent browsing in the realms of the Concordance ...

Distraction v. Attraction

Barbara Everett: Ashbery, Larkin and Eliot, 27 June 2002

... may be too subjective a sense, to span the period from the birth of Whitman to the death of T.S. Eliot. It could be said that before Whitman, no American poet of real gifts wrote American literature; and after Eliot, none wrote anything else. Between these two points, two cultures, already to different degrees and in ...

Conrad and Prejudice

Craig Raine, 22 June 1989

Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays 1967-87 
by Chinua Achebe.
Heinemann, 130 pp., £10.95, January 1988, 0 435 91000 0
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... own point of view with objectivity. And, thence, with authority. When Christopher Ricks’s T.S. Eliot and Prejudice was published at the end of last year, it attracted more than its fair share of dim-witted commentary, but perhaps the most stupid moment occurred in an otherwise well-meaning review by Dannie Abse in the Listener (1 December 1988). Dr ...

Dark Tom

Christopher Ricks, 1 December 1983

Beyond the Pale: Sir Oswald Mosley 1933-1980 
by Nicholas Mosley.
Secker, 323 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 436 28852 4
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Rules of the Game: Sir Oswald and Lady Cynthia Mosley 1896-1933 
by Nicholas Mosley.
Fontana, 274 pp., £2.50, October 1983, 0 00 636644 9
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... biography is itself a notable contribution to ‘The Literature of Fascism’ which T.S. Eliot was judging with that sentence in 1928. In 1928 Oswald Mosley was still an up-and-coming Labour MP. It was the year after Eliot had made manifest that the something which satisfied his own craving to believe was ...

The Verity of Verity

Marilyn Butler, 1 August 1996

Essays in Appreciation 
by Christopher Ricks.
Oxford, 363 pp., £25, March 1996, 0 19 818344 5
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... as his title promises, the creative writers Marlowe, Donne, Clarendon, Crabbe, Austen, George Eliot, Lowell and Hardy; the historian Clarendon, the philosopher Austin and the biographers Gaskell, Froude and Hallam Tennyson; and, throughout, the line of great dead critics – Johnson, Coleridge, Arnold, T.S. ...

Door Closing!

Mark Ford: Randall Jarrell, 21 October 2010

Pictures from an Institution: A Comedy 
by Randall Jarrell.
Chicago, 277 pp., £10.50, April 2010, 978 0 226 39375 9
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... the role of pedagogue to undergraduates, taking his first job at Amherst College in 1917. Pound, Eliot, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, Hart Crane all lived by other means; though it’s worth pointing out that the poetry and criticism of Eliot in particular, and to a lesser extent of ...

In Russell Square

Peter Campbell: Exploring Bloomsbury, 30 November 2006

... a London publishing house was very often just that – a business run from a house. When T.S. Eliot was with them, Faber and Faber were on the corner of Russell Square opposite the SOAS extension (it is marked by a blue plaque; SOAS now occupies that building too). Thinking back to what such offices were like, you realise that an 18th-century division of ...

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