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T. S. Eliot: A Short Biography


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John Worthen is the acclaimed author of D. H. Lawrence: The Life of an Outsider.


Reviewed in 2010 May CHOICE. 'An accomplished biographer who knows how to go straight to the issues, Worthen (emer., Univ. of Nottingham, UK) contributed immensely to D. H. Lawrence studies with his D. H. Lawrence (CH, Sep'06, 44-0195) and other titles. He has also written a biography of the Romantic poets (The Gang, CH, Sep'01, 39-0195) and Robert Schumann: Life and Death of a Musician (CH, Feb'08, 45-3118). Here he reinforces some of the usual stories--Eliot's family, health difficulties, friendships--and also revises some of the biographical understanding of Eliot by addressing controversies and issues surrounding Eliot's life, e.g., Eliot as an unsympathetic husband and as anti-Semitic. Though he brings little new to the discussion, Worthen uses good biographical sources and relies on the poetry, plays, and prose to provide clues to a life that Eliot deliberately obscured. The book's brevity is its advantage: it brings relevant, useful information to the first-time student of Eliot and invigorates the idea that a life can be read many ways in retrospect. Those looking for more will want to seek out the second volume of The Letters of T. S. Eliot, ed. by Valerie Eliot (2009), which provides insights on such subjects as homosexuality, misogyny, and eroticism. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and general readers.' -- L. L. Johnson, Lewis & Clark College CHOICE Magazine 20100501

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