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MonkeyNotes-The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot
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Break-Down

His health began to steadily deteriorate in October 1921, and with Vivien, he first went to Margate, a seaside resort in Kent. A further change of scene was recommended and he went to Lausanne, Switzerland. A major part of The Waste Land was composed here. On his return from Lausanne in January 1922, he spent a short time in Paris where he gave Ezra pound the early drafts of The Waste Land for editing and comments. The poem was published in October 1922 in The Criterion and a month later in The Dial (New York, Nov. 1922). This publication attracted wide interest and the poem soon became very influential for its startling "modernist" techniques.

Critical Work & Journalism

In 1920, Eliot also published a collection of critical essays The Sacred Wood. Then as founder and editor of The Criterion (1922-39), he soon became a well-respected critic. His literary journal had a galaxy of distinguished contributors such as: Marcel Proust, James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, Aldous Huxley, Virginia Woolf and Eliot himself. Eliot left Lloyds in 1925 and joined the publishing firm of Faber and Faber, soon becoming its Director a post he held till the end of his life. Some of Eliotís major critical collections include The use of Poetry and the use of Criticism (1933), The Idea of a Christian Society (1939), Towards a Definition of Culture (1948), Selected Essays (3rd Ed, 1951), On Poetry and poets (1957) and To Criticize the Critic (1965).


Later Poetry

After 1922, Eliot wrote several major poems such as The Hollow Men (1925) and a series of Christian religious poems: Journey of the Magi (1927), Song for Sinieon (1928), Marina (1929) and Ash Wednesday (1930). His explicitly Christian commitment in this period stems perhaps from his conversion to the church of England in 1927. His finest meditations on the eternal, moral and spiritual values of life can be found in Burnt Norton (1936), East Coker (1940), The Dry Salvages (1941), and Little Gidding (1942). These were collectively published in 1943 as The Four Quartets.

Poetic Drama

Around 1935, Eliot turned his interest to the revival of poetic drama. His verse plays stretch from The Rock (1934), Murder in the Cathedral (1935) and The Family Reunion (1939) to the later works: The Cocktail Party (1950), The Confidential Clerk (1954) and The Elder Statesman (1959). While the earlier plays are purely Christian drama, with medieval settings, the later dramas also have a religious theme but a more contemporary and social setting. In 1948, Eliot was the recipient of the order of Merit, Britainís highest civilian honor. The same year he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

End of Life

In 1947, Eliotís first wife died after a long period of illness. He remarried in 1957, choosing his long time secretary, Valerie Fletcher as his second wife. She remained his devoted companion to the end of his days. He died on January 4, 1965, and his ashes were buried in the little village Chapel in East Coker, Somerset. With his formidable scholarship, his complex many side personality and deeply original writings, Eliot is still regarded by most critics as the greatest poet of the twentieth century.

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