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Four Quartets

by T. S. Eliot
Publisher: Harcourt
Trade Paperback, 59 pages
Price: $9.00

If Walt Whitman gave heart to free verse, T.S. Eliot gave it mind and soul. Nobel Laureate, New Critic, poet, scholar, playwrite—Eliot's output was phenomenal, and consistently of superior quality. Born American and later made a British citizen, Eliot's intellectual but still beatiful verse captures attitudes on both sides of the Atlantic.

Four Quartets was the last major verse work by Eliot. A series of four related poems (Burnt Norton, East Coker, The Dry Salvages, and Little Gidding) collected and republished in book form in 1943, each had been published individually between 1935 to 1942.

The Wasteland, written before his conversion to Christianity, is basically a manifesto of modernist despair; Four Quartets is a rough sequel that deals with many of the same themes from a more hopeful, personal perspective. Some of the most literate verse ever written, Eliot's poems are full of literary and cultural allusions that add a rich metaphorical basis to his themes. To borrow and adapt a quote from Shaw, Eliot's Four Quartets is a masterpiece among masterpieces.

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