Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888-1965)
Life and works
He was born at St. Louis, Missouri, of an old New England family. He was an American writer who got English citizenship; he was a schoolmaster, bank clerk, literary editor etc. In 1915 he married Vivien Haigh-Wood. In 1923 he founded The Criterion (literary journal). The major works of this period express his search for religious certainties; in 1948 won the Nobel Prize for literature. His most important work is The Waste Land.
The complexity of modern civilization
Modern civilization is complex; poetry represents modern reality, so modern reality is complex too! This complexity comes from the fragmentation of culture, religion, from the processes of industrialization and consumerism.
Modern man is alienated, empty! He lives alone! He isn’t able to have a relationship with the other!
The role of the poet is to unite western culture, with the east one, because the culture is one!
Through a series of object, Eliot transmits emotion without an affirmation, without a direct story (what he calls “objective correlative”)
The Waste Land
It was first published in 1922. It is a new type of poetry, about depression after the 1 WW. The common theme which links the different parts of this work is the “decay” and fragmentation of western culture.
Eliot uses a variety of sources, like Bible, Dante’s Divina Commedia, Shakespeare, Baudelaire and Verlaine. He puts together this pieces of past by unify present (sterility) and past (fertility) in order to unify culture.
Important is the concept of “juxtaposition” (to put together a trivial event with a deeper means).