Tuesday, October 9, 2018

About T.S. Eliot | Ugc Net/Jrf English Literature

t.s.eliot, british writer, english literature

Thomas Stearns Eliot

T.S. Eliot Thomas Stearns Eliot was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on 26th September, 1888. William GreenLeaf Eliot (Eliot's grandfather from his father's side) was one of the earliest Eliot settlers in St. Louis. He was a Unitarian minister. Unitarianism arose in America in the mid eighteenth century as a wave against Puritanism and its beliefs in man's innate goodness and the doctrine of damnation. Unitarianism perceived God as kind.

 In 1834 William GreenLeaf Eliot established a Unitarian church in St. Louis. He was also instrumental in setting up Washington University there.
Of the fourteen children born to William GreenLeaf Eliot and his wife, only four survived. Henry Ware Eliot, Eliot's father, was the second of the surviving children. He graduated from Washington University and worked for a grocery business for a short while. Later, he joined a brick making firm of which he eventually became the chairperson. In 1869 T.S. Eliot's father, Henry Ware Eliot, married Charlotte Champe Stearns who was a school teacher in St. Louis. She was involved in social work and advocated women's rights. T.S. Eliot was the youngest of the six children born to Henry Ware Eliot and Charlotte Champe Stearns. The first four were girls and nine years separated Thomas and his brother, Henry. T.S. Eliot's mother was profoundly influence by her father-in- law, William  GreenLeaf Eliot. She raised her children according to his values. He was a strong believer in self-denial and public service. T.S. Eliot was sixteen his mother published a biography of William GreenLeaf Eliot and dedicated it to her children, "Lest They Forget."

T.S. Eliot started school late - at the age of seven or eight - because he was a sickly child suffering from "congenital hermia." Eliot went to a school in St. Louis until 1905. Later, he went to Miller Academy at Massachussetts for a year. He joined Harvard at the age of eighteen. By the time Eliot was in Harvard he had broken away from the strong Unitarian influence at home and had become indifferent to the church. While at Harvard from 1906-1910 Eliot began writing. In 1908 Eliot read Arthur Symon's book, The symbolist Movement in Literature which introduced him to the poetry of La Forgue. From La Forgue Eliot learnt to confess through voices and to dramatize irrational thoughts.

 He was struck by Symon's call for a spiritual vision to eclipse the realistic tradition,
It was in a student magazine, The Harvard Advocate that Eliot published his first poems at the age of twenty. Later, Eliot said that the form he adopted in 1908 and 1909 was directly derived from his study of La Forgue as well as from Elizabethan drama in its later phase. Between 1909- 1912 Eliot wrote a group of poems, later published in the collection, Prufrock and Other Observations. These poems dealt with the "New Boston" of Eliot's youth. Unlike the "old Boston" of Puritan values with which Henry James was associated, Eliot's Boston was decadent and corrupt. It was very unhealthy, highly commercialized with an influx of immigrants. Failing to find life among equals Eliot went into slum areas. He deliberately moved in squalid places. His poems pick up the images of "cigarette’s butts," "broken glass" ''dirty windows" etc. "Preludes" written about 1910 picks up several sordid images. St. Louis had been a peaceful phase in Eliot's life. In a certain way, the move from St. Louis to Boston had changed Eliot.
In 1911, Eliot returned to Harvard and entered graduate school in Philosophy.  In 1913 he had become the President of the Philosophy Club. A year later, in 19 14, while Eliot's doctoral thesis was still incomplete he went to Oxford on a travelling fellowship to study Aristotle for a year under Harold Joachim, at Merton College. The First World War broke out in 1914. Eliot took up a school teacher's job at High Wycornbe Grammar School at Oxford to supplement his income.

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