A Guide to the Selected Poems of T.S. Eliot [ePub]

by B.C. Southam

In A GUIDE TO THE SELECTED POEMS OF T.S. ELIOT the critic B.C. Southam has prepared an ideal guide for students new to T.S. Eliot's poetry. Southam is adamant about seeking to help students who have already been attracted by Eliot's work to form their own appreciation and understanding.

Though I've been a fan of T.S. Eliot for many years, I learned quite a bit from Southam's notes. All four "Ariel Poems" - which are deceptively simple and difficult for students to penetrate - are covered in depth. The often-neglected "Chorus From The Rock" finally gets substantial attention here.

My largest complaint about the work is that it is indeed a guide only to the material which appears in Faber & Faber's SELECTED POEMS. As a result, the extremely tricky and allusive FOUR QUARTETS is not covered (too late), nor is Eliot's early turn at drama "Sweeney Agonistes" (not strictly poetry).

Another problem is that not all of the book has been updated after great discoveries in Eliot studies - such as Valerie Eliot's edition of the manuscript of "The Waste Land". Southam makes some assertions which are clearly informed from the latest evidence, but other material looks as if it has remained unchanged since the book's first edition.

In spite of its flaws, I think Southam's work is a great resource for school and university students who find Eliot sublime but opaque. I'd recommend it to any beginning reader of that great poet's work.

05.09.2010

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