Christian Cyclopedia

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Eliot, Thomas Stearns

(1888–1965). Am.-born Brit. poet., dramatist, ed. pub. essayist, pol. lecturer. B. St. Louis, Missouri; d. London; buried E Coker, Somerset, home of his ancestors; grandson of W. G. Eliot*; educ. Smith Academy (a dept. of Washington U., St. Louis), Milton (Massachusetts) Academy, Harvard, the Sorbonne, Ger., and Oxford; London resident 1914; Brit. subject 1927.

Eliot became major influence in modern poetry through pub. of The Waste Land 1922. Voiced concern over depressing situation of modern man: his aimlessness, maladjustments, frustrations, and lack of faith.

Eliot's belief that the only way out of the “waste land” is Christianity moved him to join the Ch. of Eng. 1927. Ash-Wednesday (1930) portrays his religious beliefs. In it he describes the progress from disillusionment to faith, from hopelessness to hope, but not a hope for pol. and soc. progress.

An excellent craftsman, Eliot adapted the poetic technique begun by the Fr. symbolists Charles Pierre Baudelaire (1821–67), Stéphane Mallarmé (1842–98), and Jules Laforgue (1860–87); shows influence of Dante,* J. Donne,* and Ezra Loomis Pound (b. 1885); influential in reviving verse plays.

In his Weltanschauung the pessimism and agnosticism of the post-WW I generation gives way to Christian faith.

Works include The Waste Land; Ash-Wednesday: After Strange Gods; Murder in the Cathedral; The Idea of a Christian Society; Four Quartets; The Cocktail Party; Selected Essays; The Elder Statesman; Collected Poems, 1909–1962. EEF

F. O. Matthiessen, The Achievement of T. S. Eliot: An Essay on the Nature of Poetry, 3d ed. (New York, 1959); G. Smith, T. S. Eliot's Poetry and Plays: A Study in Sources and Meaning, 1st Phoenix ed. (Chicago, 1960); H. Howarth, Notes on Some Figures Behind T. S. Eliot (Boston, 1964).

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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