Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888-1965)
Eliot was born in 1888 in St Louis, Missouri. He was educated at Harvard and à la Sorbonne in Paris, where he attended Henri Bergson’s lectures. He then went to live in London, where he started working as a clerk in Lloyd’s bank. In 1915 he married the ballet dancer Vivien Haigh-Wood. He then became a director for a publishing company and the editor of the magazine The Criterion which helped him publish his own works and the ones of young authors. His wife was sick, and he was also, so he spent some time in Lausanne in a sanatorium, where poetry was the only refuge to his unhappiness. In 1927 he became part of the Church of England, deviating from the lack of faith and morality that was society at the time. He finally separated from his wife, who was relegated in an asylum, where she died in 1947. In 1948 he received the Nobel for literature and died in 1965 in London.
Eliot’s work has been highly influenced by John Donne, the Metaphysical poets, and Dante’s Divina Commedia; but also by the Bible and Hindu sacred works. He took juxtaposition from the French Symbolists.
• 1st: his works are characterised by a lack of faith in society and a profound feeling of unhappiness and dissatisfaction.
• 2nd: in the more recent philosophical works he aims at purification, hope and joy.