Thomas Stern Eliot
Perhaps the most influential
poet of the century, Thomas Stern Eliot, shaped the literary tastes of many of those who followed him,
both as a critic and a poet.
Though he was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1888, T.S. Eliot did most of his work
in London, eventually becoming a British citizen in 1927. His studies in philosophy and history, conducted
at Harvard and the Sorbonne greatly influenced his poetic standards.
A leading figure in Modernism, Eliot was one of the first to turn away from traditional verse forms
and language, filling many of his poems with the vernacular of every day conversations. His early poetry,
enveloping World War I, was decidedly pessimistic, presenting a world of isolation and disillusionment.
The psyche of his characters were usually meant to present what Eliot felt was the disintegration of
society as a whole. Contributing to T.S. Eliot's visions, it is important to note, were several mental breakdowns, a failed marriage, and a falling out with
His most famous work, The Wasteland , an eclectic poem
written in fragmented scenes, deals with the failure of traditional relationships in modern society. Many
of his other poems echo the sentiments of his most famous poem. His later poetry, however, turned more traditional, mainly due to his
conversion into the Church of England.
Eliot also served as director and editor of the publishing house of Faber & Faber, along with founding the
literary journal Criterion. To his great distinction, T.S. Eliot won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1948.