le 25 mai 2001
I became familiar with Eliot's work chronologically, learning something new at each step. "Prufrock" introduced me to modern poetical structure, "The Waste Land" showed me how literary allusion can enrich verse, "Ash-Wednesday" refreshed the world of religious poetry, and the supernal "Four Quartets" was for me a metaphysical insight of the greatest beauty.
Eliot is without a doubt the finest poet of the 20th century, perhaps the finest poet ever. His contributions to the poets who came after him, and to literature in general, are persistently evident. Eliot doesn't always succeed, and many of his poems seem trite and pretentious, but when he succeeds he hits dead on with poetry perfect in form, balance, and sound. There is the man here, the poet as reflected in his own work, but there is also common human experience through looking at history ("The Waste Land") and meditating on Man's relationship with the Divine and the eternal (Ariel Poems, and most of his output after 1928).
HOWEVER, this edition of his "collected works," COMPLETE POEMS AND PLAYS: 1909-1950 lacks several last poems which can be found in COLLECTED POEMS 1909-1962. I recommend that edition, as tt is worth missing out on Eliot's plays in order to have a truly complete collection of his sublime verse.
le 17 janvier 2000
T. S. Eliot was arguably the greatest poet of the 20th century, but this collection is far from ideal. Alert readers will have already noticed the ominous qualifier "1909-1950" in the title; this book does *not* include the last two plays ("The Confidential Clerk" and "The Elder Statesman"), the last Ariel poem ("The Cultivation of Christmas Trees"), or the handful of Occasional Verses included in "Collected Poems 1909-1962." In addition, the typography in this volume is claustrophobic in the early poems. TSE's style is concentrated and intense, and virtually every collection of his work has the sense to begin each poem on a new page. This book, unfortunately, is the exception: it crams the poems together like classified ads.
The One True Eliot Collection was never published in the United States: "The Complete Poems and Plays of T. S. Eliot" (Faber and Faber, 1969 and later reprintings). It's worth looking on for a used copy since this book contains virtually all the published poems, all five plays, and even "Poems Published in Early Youth." In the meantime, U.S. readers are better off skipping the 1909-1950 volume. Get "Collected Poems 1909-1962" and buy the plays separately -- along with Old Possum's Book of You-Know-Whats, if you insist.
le 28 juin 1997
Eliot was a failure. That's right, a failure. He spent his whole life lamenting that the critics got him wrong. Ironically, Eliot had a decades-long feud with my other favorite writer, C. S. Lewis, because Lewis disliked Eliot's modern style. Yet I think much of what Lewis criticized in Eliot was based upon the standard critics' interpretations, rather than on what Eliot intended (does Prufrock not, prophetically, lament "That's not what I meant at all?"). Eliot may have initiated a new era in poetry, but what he initiated was a rebellion against 19th-century romanticism and liberalism. When studied on a deeper level than mere style, one sees that Eliot's poetry is at heart traditional and anti-Modern, overladen with Christian and Oriental thought. There is no better analysis of Eliot, in my opinion, than Russell Kirk's _Eliot and His Age_. Poems which the critics see as discussions of failed romance are actually laments about failure to appreciate art, and descriptions of the hell in which we live. Critics see a decline from "Prufrock" to "Ash Wednesday", but I (like Kirk) see the fulfillment of Eliot in his later poetry: he tells us what's wrong with the world, and then he points to a higher standard, "redeeming the time" as the voice calls out in "Ash Wednesday"
le 1 février 1997
Even in his lifetime Eliot became a legend, a literary figure so universally praised, so enormously influential, that some of his best works, in spite of their popularity, and perhaps because of it, have been buried by the overly abusive and vulgar public. So for the several decades after his death, his dominant spirit was--had to be--combated by those who wish to break new ground. It is true that now we can see beyond Eliot, but we hardly realize that we still must begin with him, as he himself had begun the modernist tradition nearly a century ago.
This book, the complete Eliot, is possibly the single most important book in modern English poetry. Reading Yeats and Eliot side by side, we cannot help but notice that Yeats, and perhaps Stevens with him, belonged to the Romantic tradition, however they masked themselves. But Eliot is different. His poetry represents something new, but at the same time something ancient, as ancient as the Greeks that he so admired. Eliot was a beginning, in the sense that Dante, his master, was a beginning. Like Freud's, Joyce's, Kafka's, and Picasso's, Eliot's voice is unique. But hardly any major poet alive today can escape it. The truth is, we talk like Eliot whenever we want to say something meaningul or "profound"; because his voice had dominated ours, just as his imagination had become part of ours.
le 22 janvier 2001
In spite of the drawbacks of the arrangement in this volume (as described by other reviewers infra), this remains a must-have volume for anyone interested in contemporary poetry. T.S. Eliot's *best* works are all collected here, in a readily readable and comprehensible form. I remember reading and re-reading and re-reading my copy as a youngster and it still enjoys both a place of honor on my shelf as well as the even greater honor of frequent use and perusal. Let's face it, you can't come to terms with contemporary poetry without an understanding of T.S. Eliot, and this is probably the best place to start that effort because of the comprehensive (though not exhaustive) nature of this collection. You simply have to have this volume if you are a lover of contemporary poetry.
le 27 septembre 2014
T.S. Eliot is perhaps the greatest poet of the 20th century. He was a very complex person and his poetry can often be ambiguous and almost mystical. And yet, to know Eliot is to encounter the Divine in both transcendent and immanent forms. His poem The Wasteland still speaks to us in our own turbulent times and his play Murder in the Cathedral has to be one of the greatest pieces of poetic prose ever written. Read Eliot and you will encounter a world that is beautiful, disturbing and filled with the mystery of God.
le 25 juillet 2013
Having just seen "Cats" (again) in Toronto I was eager to read some T.S. Eliot but have never been successful in finding a volume with more than a few poems - so this was just great to find and have. I will dip into it often when the mood strikes.
le 5 juin 2000
I bought this book back in college (I was premed). Of all the old books on my shelves, this one gets pulled out the most often. Like some of the other reviewers, I smile quietly when I see C. S. Lewis's criticisms of Eliot. They share a shelf in my home.
le 30 juillet 1998
A wonderful collection of most of T.S. Eliot's poetry, including The Wasteland, The Hollow Men and Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. Has extensive notes by the author. A must for all Eliot fans.
le 1 janvier 2014
Content was great. Quality of paper left a bit to be desired. I confess I might still look for a better quality binding.