T. S. Eliot (Magill's Literary Annual 1985)
In his T. S. Eliot: A Study in Character and Style, Ronald Bush provides several valuable services to Eliot scholarship. The first is as organizer and synthesizer of a tremendous amount of primary material and received opinion about T. S. Eliot and the general outline of his career. In this capacity, Bush’s work is not strikingly original. His overall view of both Eliot’s life and the nature and merit of individual poems is largely consistent with and indebted to existing scholarship. The value of Bush’s book lies in his thoroughness, his grasp of the wholeness of Eliot’s diverse efforts (Bush skillfully uses Eliot’s criticism, for example, to enlighten both his poetry and temperament), and in the most complete attempt to date to illuminate the link between the psychological contours of Eliot’s life and his changing poetic style.
Bush’s subtitle indicates the primary focus of his work. His approach is largely a combination of psychological biography and close reading of individual poems, though he does just enough deconstructionist criticism to show that he is up-to-date. Eliot’s reticence about making public the details of his life, reflected in his refusal to authorize a biography and the many restrictions on his existing private papers, has hindered attempts to explore fully relationships between his life and work—relationships that, in Eliot’s case, are unusually significant. In the past, one had to be content with the...
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1985)
The Atlantic. CCLIII, April, 1984, p. 145.
Booklist. LXXX, January 15, 1984, p. 711.
Choice. XXI, July, 1984, p. 1604.
Library Journal. CIX, January, 1984, p. 91.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. March 11, 1984, p. 7.
The New York Review of Books. XXXI, June 28, 1984, p. 5.
The New York Times Book Review. LXXXIX, April 8, 1984, p. 10.
Virginia Quarterly Review. LX, Summer, 1984, p. 86.
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