The Sacred Wood
The Sacred Wood by T. S. Eliot has – like most of the Nobel Prize-winner’s work – become essential reading for anybody interested in poetry, literature, or the history and culture of England. Including ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’, ‘Hamlet and his Problems’ and analyses of writers such Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson and Dante.
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This seminal book, Eliot’s first collection of literary criticism, appeared in London in 1920, two years before The Waste Land. It contains some of his most influential early essays and reviews, among them ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’, ‘Hamlet and his Problems’, and Eliot’s thoughts on Marlowe, Jonson and Massinger, as well as his first tribute to Dante. Many of his most famous critical pronouncements come from the pages of The Sacred Wood.
Reviewing his career as a critic in 1961 Eliot wrote that ‘in my earlier criticism, both in my general affirmations about poetry and in writing about authors who influenced me, I was implicitly defending the sort of poetry that I and my friends wrote. This gave my essays a kind of urgency, the warmth of appeal of the advocate, which my later, more detached and I hope more judicial essays cannot claim.’ This urgency is still apparent more than eighty years after the essays first appeared.
Thomas Stearns Eliot, poet, critic, publisher, was born in St Louis, Missouri, in 1888. He settled in England in 1915, where for a few years he worked in the foreign section of Lloyds Bank. His first book of poems, Prufrock and Other Observations, was published in 1917. In 1922, he became editor of the literary journal, The Criterion, publishing The Waste Land in its first…Read More
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The Waste Land, first published in the inaugural issue of The Criterion in October 1922, celebrates its centenary in 2022.