poem index

book

Four Quartets

Publisher

Mariner Books

Year

1946

Type

Poetry Book
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Among the most revered of the Modernists, T. S. Eliot was discovered by Ezra Pound, who became his lifelong editor and friend. Pound arranged for the publication of Eliot's early work, and significantly edited The Waste Land. Though born in America, Eliot spent most of his life in England where he was an editor for Faber & Faber, and created and edited the journal Criterion, which became enormously influential during the years in which he was the editor.

His memorial in Poet’s Corner at Westminster Abbey reads, "The communication of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living," from "Little Gidding," one of the Four Quartets. Begun over a decade after The Waste Land garnered critical praise and attention for Eliot, the quartets were first published separately between 1935 and 1942, and later collected into a single volume. In 1948, after the publication of Four Quartets, Eliot won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Eliot considered these four long poems to be his finest achievement and the pinnacle of his career. More overtly philosophical and Christian than The Waste Land, the quartets contain a mixture of imagistic, poetic language and the philosophical thought.

Though each of the quartets is considered to be a masterpiece, "Burnt Norton" and "Little Gidding" have been the most praised and analyzed. Of "Burnt Norton," literary critic Hugh Kenner said: "Suggestion does not outrun thought, nor design impose itself on what word and cadence are capable of suggesting. It was a precarious unobtrusive masterpiece, which had for some years no successor."

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