TS Eliot
John Worthen

TS Eliot

Biographical writing about Eliot is in a more confused and contested state than is the case with any other major twentieth-century writer. There has been no biography of Eliot since the impact of his early poems (Inventions of the March Hare) in 1996, in spite of the fact that the book radically alters how we might think of him. There have been attempts to turn the American woman Emily Hale into the beloved woman of Eliot’s middle years; and Eliot has also been blamed for the instability of his first wife and declared a closet homosexual. This book frees itself from such distortions, as well as from the old biographical model of Eliot as cold and unemotional. It offers a sympathetic study of his first marriage which does not attempt to blame, but to understand; it shows how Eliot’s poetry can be read for its revelations about his inner world. He once wrote that every poem was an epitaph, meaning that it was the inscription on the tombstone of the experience which it commemorated. His poetry shows, however, that the deepest experiences of his life would not lie down and die, and that he felt condemned to write about them.

Book Details:

  • Author: John Worthen
  • Published Year: 2009
  • Rights Sold
    • UK: Haus
    • China: Jiangsu People’s Publishing House
    • China: Jiangsu People’s Publishing House
John Worthen

John Worthen

John Worthen was born in London in 1943 and – as an academic in Charlottesville, Swansea and Nottingham – specialised for many years in writing about the life and editing the work of D. H. Lawrence; he ended up as Professor of D. H. Lawrence Studies at the University of Nottingham. His first book was D. H. Lawrence and the Idea of the Novel (Macmillan, 1979); he published D. H. Lawrence: A Literary Life with Macmillan in 1989, D. H. Lawrence with Edward Arnold in 1991 and his major study D. H. Lawrence: The Early Years 1885-1912 appeared from Cambridge University Press in 1991. ...
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Book Reviews

  • "...an excellent introduction to lay readers and students.  "
    The Year’s Work in English Studies,
  • "deserves reading. I found it both enlightening and enjoyable.      "
    Journal of the T S Eliot Society,
  • "An accomplished biographer who knows how to go straight to the issues...uses good biographical sources and relies on the poetry, plays, and prose to provide clues to a life that Eliot deliberately obscured. The book's brevity is its advantage: it brings relevant, useful information to the first-time student of Eliot and invigorates the idea that a life can be read many ways in retrospect. Summing Up: Highly recommended"
    Choice Magazine
  • "This is a refreshingly ungossipy biography that treats subjects that have previously attracted much speculation - including the failure of Eliot's first marriage, his sexuality, and his allegedly deep rooted anti-Semitism - in a sensitive and measured way. "
    Good Book Guide
  • "This biography of T. S. Eliot sorts through the mysteries of his life and frees him of distortions such as him being a closet homosexual and being the cause of his first wife's instability. It instead offers a sympathetic description of his marriage and how his poetry can be read to reveal his inner life. "