Thomas Eliot: works,themes and production

Thomas Stearns Eliot was a poet above all but also a critic and a playwright. American by birth but English by choice he is considered to be one of the greatest 20th century poets. His most important works are:

· Poems: The Waste Land
The Hollow men
Ash Wednesday
The Four Quartets
Journey of the Magi
Old Possum’s Book of practical Cats
· Plays: The Confidential Clerk
Murder in the Cathedral
The Family Reunion
The Cocktail Party
The Elder Statesman

His poetry written after World War I witnesses the cultural disintegration of contemporary society due to industrialization, mass production, consumerism, collapse of values. He dealt with

· man’s alienation
· the problem of personal identity
· the problem of faith
· the relation between past, present and future
· the relation between time and eternity
· the fear of living
· the emptiness of our time
· the lack of communication

Eliot’s production is divided into two phases:

1. marked by nihilism due to the decay of western civilization after World War I, in which he focuses on the squalor of his contemporary society seen as a modern hell which is urban life (the Waste Land, the Hollow Men)
2. after his conversion in 1927, where faith is the answer to doubts and to the sad and gloomy vision of modern world (Ash Wednesday, the Four Quartets).

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Eliot, Thomas - Influences and production