T. S. Eliot Questions and Answers

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Why is T.S. Eliot regarded as an important poet/writer?

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Wallace Field eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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T.S. Eliot is regarded as such an important writer because he captured the feelings and attitudes of the early twentieth century in such a unique and, yet, authentic way. His poem, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," for example, demonstrates the prevailing sense of alienation many people felt during this era: it tells the story of a man who longs to reach out to a woman he loves, but he is too afraid of rejection and the subsequent alienation, and so he never asks her how she feels. This fear of rejection is also such a universal feeling that almost anyone can relate to. The poem ends with resignation: the speaker knows that he will grow old alone, forever the fool. "The Waste Land" is another such work: it captures the vague feeling of physical and spiritual ill-being that characterized the era succeeding World War I. Nothing is as it should beā€”spring is cruel while winter was warm, and nothing feels good or clean or simple. Eliot's ability to capture these feelings, feelings which seem to defy language, make him an important poet.

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accessteacher eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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We need to identify how T. S. Eliot contributed something unique to poetry through his work. Certainly it is hard work to read his poetry and even harder to understand it, however, if we persevere we can detect gleams of his genius that shine through in spite of the impenetrable nature of his work. His use of intertextuality to comment on the problems with his contemporary society have created some of the greatest gems of Literature such as "The Hollow Men" and "The Four Quartets."

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McKinstry Rose eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Many readers find T. S. Eliot's writing to be difficult to read because it is abstract. However, T. S. Eliot did not win the 1948 Nobel Prize in Literature because readers struggled to understand his poetry; rather, he won it and is still considered a significant writer because of his innovative style. Eliot, along with poet Ezra Pound, invented Symbolism, a form of poetry which evolved during the Modern Era (generally 1900-1950). Symbolists like Eliot longed for their readers to view the world with imagination and from a new perspective. What is most interesting about Eliot is that he was able to juxtapose his inventive techniques with the theme of tradition. Eliot's poems such as "The Waste Land" and "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" demonstrate the poet's disillusionment with modern society and its lack of regard for tradition, but the style of the poems is anything but traditional.

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