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The Cocktail Party

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  903 ratings  ·  72 reviews
A modern verse play about the search for meaning, in which a psychiatrist is the catalyst for the action. An authentic modern masterpiece (New York Post). Eliot really does portray real-seeming characters. He cuts down his poetic effects to the minimum, and then finally rewards us with most beautiful poetry (Stephen Spender).
Paperback
Published 1949 by Faber & Faber
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Mari
"We die to each other daily.
What we know of other people
Is only our memory of the moments
During which we knew them. And they have changed since then.
To pretend that they and we are the same
Is a useful and convenient social convention
Which must sometimes broken. We must also remember
That at every meeting we are meeting a stranger."


TS Eliot said of The Cocktail Party, "Whatever you find in it depends on what you bring to it." Which, of course, applies to much of his work. How much The Cocktail Pa...more
Sketchbook
"Bosh sprinkled with mystic cologne," tooted a drama critic when this play opened NYC, 1950, and won Best Play (Tony) and ran a year. Broadway then. Broadway now : honking vulgarity aimed at tourists. New Yorkers today seek creative cuisine and restorative sex.

Remember the TS El craze? It went on and on. Receiving the blessing of Lucempire, TS made the TIME cover, March 5, 1950, shortly after his platitude opened. (Others equally blessed : Stephen King, Erma Brombeck, Neil Simon, Michael Crichto...more
J. Aleksandr Wootton
Acts I & II are easily the most important work on human relationships (or, if you like, on hell) that I have come across. One of a few books I would universally suggest everybody read, as soon as they are old enough to understand it.

Act III adds nothing of importance, and as such, detracts from the work overall - especially since it comes at the end. If you have the self-discipline to stop reading at the end of Act II, do it. You won't be missing anything, and you leave yourself with a much...more
بسام عبد العزيز
مسرحية نفسية (إن جاز التعبير) .. مناقشة لفكرة العلاقات الإنسانية و بالأخص فكرة الحب..
هل هناك حب فعلا؟ أم هى مجرد رغبة شخصية؟ مجرد أنانية؟ هل تتواجد الحياة بين الأزواج بدون حب؟ هل يمكن الحياة أصلا بدون حب؟ هل يمكن اعتبار الأشخاص الذين لا يمتلكون عاطفة الحب أشخاصا سوية أم مريضة؟

المسرحية تدور احداثها من خلال زوجين يعانيان من أزمة نفسية تؤدي لانفصالهما.. و المحاولة التي يقوم بها طبيب نفسي لإصلاح الشقاق بين الزوجين.. و نكتشف مع تتابع الأحداث الأسباب الحقيقية للخلاف بين الزوجين وهى التي يتضح لنا كونه...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I re-read this play every other year or so, it just never stops having meaning for me. I first went to a performance of it in college, and I went back the night after, and the night after that. I couldn't get enough!

I think the theme that resonates with me the most, and the reasons change, is that of relationships with others. Can you ever be known? Are you always alone?

"I have ceased to believe in my own personality"

"What is the reality of experience between two unreal people?"
Mairéad ~Maïrshall Lee~
***Read for University***

2.5 stars actually.

At first I thought this play would be like the many others I've read (this excludes Shakespeare because he's in a category of his own in a sense to me) and well, I've must say I don't have very much luck with a play I've read for university most times. However thankfully, while this one did start out rather brain numbing for me, it sort of grew on me. The prose is lyrical and poetic, and in free verse, but I have to say that's pretty much what I liked...more
Miss Leacock
I don't know how to rate this. It was depressing, though things were better by the end. I didn't really know what it was about when I started reading it--it was definitely more than I bargained for.

Celia to Edward:
Oh, don't think that you can humiliate me!
Humiliation--it's something I've done to myself.
I am not sure even that you seem real enough
To humiliate me. I suppose that most women
Would feel degraded to find that a man
With whom they thought they had shared something wonderful
Had taken the...more
Traci
This was one of my attempts at reading more "literary" works, and while I did read it, I have to say that I didn't enjoy it much. I waded my way thru Eliot's "The Wasteland" back in my college days, so I'm not sure why I thought a play by him would be any better. Luckily, it's short.

The whole thing is written in free verse, which I am not a fan of. And as to "what" the play is about, good luck with that, too. It starts off normally enough with a scene set in the drawing room of Edward and Lavini...more
Amanda
"An awareness of solitude.
But that sounds so flat. I don't mean simply
That there's been a crash; though indeed there has
been.
It isn't simply the the end of an illusion
In the ordinary way, or being ditched.
Of course that's something that's always happening
To all sorts of people, and they get over it
More or less, or at least they carry on.
No, I mean that what has happened has made me aware
That I've always been alone. That one is always alone.
Not simply the ending of one relationship,
Not even si...more
Jillian
I read that this was Vivien Leigh's favorite play, so I was intrigued. After reading a bit about her troubled marriage to Olivier, it makes sense that this would resonate with her. I found it more of a tragedy than a comedy overall, but it was very clever. I can't say that I "liked it" but I respected it:)
Ksenia
The psychiatrist needs to get off his soap box. So do the other characters.
James
Hmmmm. I kind of liked this, but I'm not really sure why. I didn't know it was a play when I picked it out to read. I think I heard about it either from a college professor or as referenced in another work (maybe C.S. Lewis?).

I'm still not exactly sure what the point of this book was supposed to be. I would guess at "the disillusionment of man" or something else very austere sounding. The characters seem at the same time full of themselves and confused about their existence.

One thing I did like...more
04meganb
The Cocktail Party has to do with relationships and lying. I like romance and having something besides the ‘perfect’ relationship. You have to have some kind of drama in whatever you’re reading to keep a play, book, novel, or anything interesting. I think that the play would have been more interesting if it showed Lavinia’s point of view and actually discuss where she really went to. I felt the author could have went more in depth of whether Lavinia caught Edward having an affair with Celia, or...more
Dan Geddes
The Cocktail Party is a twentieth century morality play, one that argues that people must accept their burdensome roles as decision makers. Unlike medieval morality plays, which upbraided audiences to choose good deeds and shun evil, The Cocktail Party simply places its characters in the crucible of choice, and diagnoses their indecision as a malaise. Eliot means to demonstrate that it is the burden of the human race to face tough choices, and live with the consequences.

The play centers around t...more
Suhasini Srihari
''The Cocktail Party'' by T.S. Eliot is a 20th century play, dealing with 'nothingness' as its main theme coupled with a sense of detachment towards reality. 'Love', 'trust' and 'loyalty' is seen as mere words in this play, they literally weigh nothing more than a penny! And the characters are seen in a constant search, there is nothing in particular as to what they are searching but it happens unconsciously. The aristocratic way of living always include the thrilling parties as a part of their...more
Joshua
Sometimes nothing is a real cool hand. I love T.S. Eliot being clinically critical of pretense and all of the images of ourselves and others we idolize. The play closes with the Cocktail Party, which must go on as pride is swallowed and life goes on.

Reilly quotes in the book:

Percy Shelley's drama Prometheus Unbound (1820) contains the following passage in Act I: "Ere Babylon was dust, / The Magus Zoroaster, my dear child, / Met his own image walking in the garden. / That apparition, sole of men...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Cocktail Party, T.S. Eliot
مهمانی کوکتل: امیر فریدون گرگانی، انتشارات سروش، تهران (۱٣۵۴
Characters: Edward Chamberlayne, Julia (Mrs. Shuttlethwaite), Celia Coplestone, Alexander Maccolgie Gibbs, Peter Quilpe, An Unidentified Guest later identified as Sir Henry Harcourt-Reilly, Lavinia Chamberlayne, A Nurse-Secretary, Caterer's Man

Act I. Scene 1
The drawing room of the Chamberlayne's London flat. Early evening. EDWARD CHAMBERLAYNE, JULIA SHUTTLETHWAITE, CELIA COPLESTONE, PETER QUILPE, ALEXANDER MACC...more
Mark
Puzzling. The first two acts are fascinating. There's an undercurrent of the difficulty of truly knowing other people—of loneliness and creating images of others as substitutes for actual understanding—and another of indeterminate spiritual desire... but I can't quite make sense of the third act. Choice, I think is an element, but I'm not sure what Eliot's overall point is—and since Eliot is a bit too didactic to make his characters more than types, I found the play somewhat unsatisfying.

[Ah, I'...more
Julie
The first two acts are so good you are able to wholly forgive the third. Go into it knowing that, and having had some adult relationships, and having already read Prufrock and The Waste Land and Four Quartets, and there will be some perfectly stunning moments along the way. There are even a few in that third act but oh dear.
Lauren
I found this book [play unseen] very intriguing, tragic, and a fantastic study of the condition of relationships. The psychiatrist was an odd man out for me, but overall, the rest rang pretty true as I've met personalities who could be brilliant stands ins for the temperaments described within.
Yachen
could've been 4 stars: acts 1 & 2 were stunning, but gosh i really did not like act 3. soooo relatable though!
Rachel
"It's not the feeling f anything I've ever done which I might get away from or of anything in me I could get rid of - but of emptiness, of failure towards someone or something outside of myself; and I feel I must...atone - is that the word? Can you treat a patient for such a state of mind?" -- Celia Act 2
This is such a sad confession to a psychiatrist who is more focused on manipulation and making himself look good. What Celia needs is to find God, to fill that emptiness with the love and mercy...more
Burak Serin
bu da mutlu bir ölüm değilse hangi ölüm mutludur??
Salma Hasan
"اِعملي على خلاصِك بجِد".
Ben Doberstein
What can I say? Where some see masterful poetical abounding, I see them only here and there. Whereas others see greatness in theme, I see a confused plot underdeveloped and mere sardonic word play where I would hope to see grandeur. T.S. Eliot is one of the elite minds, but this perhaps was experimentation outside his wheelhouse? I would read it again as I see some hope in Acts I and III but II was a travesty.
Lobaby
A very enjoyable quick read from TS Eliot. It's funny, even being from a different generation, which is hard to accomplish with comedy. But also profound, and even a bit hard to figure out some of the deeper messages. I wouldn't expect less from Eliot. The characters are extremely interesting.
I think this play is definitely saying something,still trying to put my finger on it...
J. Alfred
This is one of those books where the message is more easily explicable than the plot. The message? You are responsible for your life choices and your personality isn't very interesting until you realize that you aren't very interesting. The plot? Well, there might be angels, or there might be some ultra-competent society of do-gooders hanging around cocktail parties. Who knows?
Adam
I did not intend to read this book/play by T. S. Eliot, but while visiting my brother-in-law, I found this on a bookshelf. I was immediately gripped by the storyline that develops during a cocktail party. I am sure there are aspects of the story that I am missing, but I enjoyed the insight into human nature and our neuroses. The early acts are especially humorous.
Daniel
Impactante pieza teatral sobre la separación de una pareja y sus consecuencias. Magnífico cuadro de relaciones humanas y de reacciones psicológicas con la figura misteriosa de un mediador que parece poseer las claves de la comprensión de los misterios de la vida humana. Encierra un importante carga simbólica y alegórica que llama al diálogo.
Matt Ambs
A play couched in the infrastructure of personal and public identity, marriage, propriety, and faith. T.S. Eliot unveils the delusions that plague humankind on its journey to enlightenment and examines the spiritual destitution which comes as a result of earthly subterfuge. A story of spiritual beginnings and sacrifices.
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18540
Thomas Stearns Eliot was a poet, dramatist and literary critic. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948 "for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry." He wrote the poems The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Waste Land, The Hollow Men, Ash Wednesday, and Four Quartets; the plays Murder in the Cathedral and The Cocktail Party; and the essay Tradition and the Individ...more
More about T.S. Eliot...
The Waste Land and Other Poems The Waste Land Collected Poems, 1909-1962 The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and Other Poems Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats

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“We die to each other daily. What we know of other people is only our memory of the moments during which we knew them. And they have changed since then. To pretend that they and we are the same is a useful and convenient social convention which must sometimes be broken. We must also remember that at every meeting we are meeting a stranger.” 804 likes
“It will do you no harm to find yourself ridiculous.
Resign yourself to be the fool you are...
...We must always take risks. That is our destiny...”
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