Books: A Long Way from St. Louis

Marking T.S. Eliot's centenary, not with a whimper but a bang

Thomas Stearns Eliot was born in St. Louis on Sept. 26, 1888. He died in London on Jan. 4, 1965. These dates and places bracket a life but are swamped by its reverberations. For Eliot, in transit, not only wrote The Waste Land, the single most influential poem in English of the 20th century. He also produced a body of work -- poetry, criticism, plays -- that permanently rearranged the cultural landscapes of his native and adopted lands.

Exactly how he created himself and his era remains something of a mystery, the topic of continuing debate. And this discussion is about...

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