Eliot’s career as a poet extends from the publication of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” in 1915 through the publication of his theological poems, Four Quartets. His career as a literary critic continued from 1917 until his death, but all of his most influential essays had been published before 1937. His five plays appeared during the years 1932 to 1958. In the life of this poet, literary and social critic, and dramatist, the 1930’s, the decade of Eliot’s forties, embrace a shift in creative activity away from poetry and literary essays toward drama. They also embrace the beginning of a preoccupation with social and cultural criticism, namely, the publication in 1934 of After Strange Gods, which is a combination of literary criticism and cultural commentary.
The sociological preoccupation was resumed at the beginning of the next decade with The Idea of a Christian Society and tapered off in 1948 with Notes Towards the Definition of Culture. The triad amounts to an interjection of social and cultural criticism into the late midcareer of the poet, literary critic, and playwright. That it was a less than felicitous interjection was generally recognized. Eliot’s staunchest admirers conceded that these works were, to put it kindly, not Eliot’s best. In them the precision and insight, the perfection of phrase, and the pointed support of general observation by impeccably selected specific examples—the...
(The entire section is 335 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Notes Towards the Definition of Culture Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!