T. S. Eliot: Journey of a Pessimist to Faith in God

T.S. EliotFrom The Lovesong of Alfred J Prufrock  to the mysterious complexity of The Wasteland and more, Earl Palmer gives us a detailed biography of one of the greatest poets of the 20th century - T.S. Eliot. Centered around The Complete Poems and Plays of T.S. Eliot as a reference, Earl draws an image of the man through his poetry. What shaped Eliot's poems? How did his difficult first marriage, his fame, his joys and journey write the words we've come to know so well?

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5 Responses to “T. S. Eliot: Journey of a Pessimist to Faith in God”

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  2. Curtis Cook says:

    In 1939, Eliot published a book of light verse , Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats ("Old Possum" was Ezra Pound's nickname for him). This first edition had an illustration of the author on the cover. In 1954, the composer Alan Rawsthorne set six of the poems for speaker and orchestra, in a work entitled Practical Cats. After Eliot's death, the book was adapted as the basis of the musical, Cats , by Andrew Lloyd Webber , first produced in London's West End in 1981 and opening on Broadway the following year.

  3. Jenny TeGrotenhuis says:

    I liked Shirley's question at the very end and Earl's reply. So encouraging. For the skeptical temperament the story may not be finished yet.

  4. rebelsprite says:

    Thank you for this amazing talk! I wanted to respond to an interesting audience question – whether Eliot's private conversion was problematic, i.e. in opposition with Christ's command to not to hide a light, to share the Gospel, etc. – perhaps even, was he ashamed, uncomfortable, or secretive about his faith. The response explained that this can't really be it, because he is very public about his faith immediately afterwards. I think this can clear up the possible "contradiction".

    I am Eastern Orthodox – and this makes me wonder if the Church of England has/had a similar understanding to the mystery/sacrament of baptism, namely – when we are baptized, the purpose is not a public declaration of our faith, it is not about showing others what *we* have decided, it is not about *our* active role. We are offering ourselves up to God, that much we do and have decided – but the actual act of baptism is performed by God. Baptism isn't something we do to ourselves – it's something that God does to us.

    God is baptizing, the grace of God is what is at work within us – that is the central point, not our public declaration to those outside the church. So it is a very intimate thing. Of course, when performed within a community, with others, it becomes more public – but it's still the sharing of this intimate moment with others, it's not understood as one's public declaration. The public declaration part really starts with living and sharing the Gospel afterwards.

    I feel this is a useful distinction that might apply here – to me, in this light, there is no contradiction whatsoever in his private baptism. It's really about himself and God, and of course, the body of Christ to which he is being joined, which is involved through the few others present, including the priest baptizing him – it is an intimate and essentially mystical experience, a sacramental mystery. It's not about a public declaration to those outside of the body of Christ – though letting others know or having them present can have that added effect, that's really not the actual immediate purpose of the baptism itself. His work with the others, his own "ministry", occurs afterwards. I hope that makes sense.

  5. Kendall Ruth says:

    What a great way of phrasing it: "it is an intimate and essentially mystical experience, a sacramental mystery." I help manage the podcasts and site and have to say thanks for listening and keeping the conversation going. To see that the questions and interaction go beyond the Walker Ames room or Hale's Ales is encouraging and a huge part of where we hope the Kindlings keeps alight.

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