The Philosophy of T. S. Eliot

The Philosophy of T. S. Eliot
From Skepticism to a Surrealist Poetic, 1909-1927

William Skaff

256 pages | 6 x 9
Ebook 2016 | ISBN 9781512806946 | Buy from De Gruyter $79.95 | €69.95 | £70.50
This book is available under special arrangement from our European publishing partner De Gruyter.
An Anniversary Collection volume

"[A]mong the most original works of literary scholarship on a poet's ideas. . . . Skaff is vividly clear on these matters. . . . This book is more indispensable to the student of Eliot's poetry than any book I have read in the past decade."—South Atlantic Review

"[Evident is] the cogency of Skaff's argument, and the skill with which he develops it. . . . The author has identified an important line of continuity in early twentieth-century intellectual life [and] succeeds in showing precisely how this general configuration of ideas found its way into Eliot's literary essays as well as his poetry. The result is a book that offers what is to date the most comprehensive account of Eliot's intellectual background and a book that is rich with suggestions for future studies of his work."—Religion & Literature

"[P]ersuasive and useful . . . for the advanced student of Eliot or the specialist of Modernism, . . . lucid and closely reasoned. . . . [T]hose who know the poetry . . . will have no trouble in seeing the immediate applicability of his theses."—Journal of Modern Literature

"There is much to admire here: a mass of pertinent research, a particularly enlivening account of the surrealist Eliot, and a wisely cautious approach to developmental chronology. . . . Skaff is admirably thorough in telling us what and how Eliot read, and he is good on sources that have hitherto proved elusive. . . . [T]he range of documentary evidence and a careful intelligence render this study extremely useful."—The Year's Work in English Studies

"The most important single book on Eliot's thought. . . . Absolutely first-rate."—Anne C. Bolgan, author of The Philosophy of F. H. Bradley and the Mind and Art of T. S. Eliot

"A splendid work, vigorously intelligent, discriminating, and in its philosophic dimension, often profound."—Paul Fussell, author of The Great War and Modern Memory

"The argument is very convincing. . . . Skaff has combed Eliot's bibliography, has found many otherwise unnoticed essays and reviews, and has managed to make them relevant to his sense of Eliot's progression. The progression has a teleology, leading to . . . surrealism, the final and centrally important section of the book. . . . Here Skaff reveals a considerable facility as a critic of art, which is a startling achievement after five very dense and well-argued chapters on Eliot's philosophy."—Sebastian D. G. Knowles, coauthor of T. S. Eliot: Man and Poet, Vol. 2: An Annotated Bibliography of a Decade of T. S. Eliot Criticism

T. S. Eliot's mind encompasses just about every important avant-garde intellectual movement of his time. His thought, as well as his poetry, represents an essential and original achievement within Modernism. This study presents Eliot's unique synthesis of contemporary philosophy, psychology, anthropology, and studies in mysticism, and demonstrates how it is responsible for the nature of his religious belief, the basic tenets of his literary theory, and the figurative, structural, and dramatic aspects of his verse, pervading virtually everything he wrote throughout his life. The chapters are Skepticism, Mysticism, The Unconscious, Primitive Experience, Mythic Consciousness, and A Surrealist Poetic.

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