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Selected Essays

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  351 ratings  ·  13 reviews
37 essays in an expanded edition of the author's major volume of criticism.
Paperback, 460 pages
Published October 5th 1950 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Boar's Head Eastcheap Little late in the day: I have a 1944 copy of it, which does include the essay.

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4.10  · 
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 ·  351 ratings  ·  13 reviews


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Eric
Sep 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Eliot's poetry, especially Four Quartets, but I find that his criticism is just as present day to day for me. These essays offer an education. Without his finely appreciative advocacy it might have been years before I picked up Webster, Tourneur and Jonson. These essays are also great specimens of the English review-essay; as with James, Eliot's conquest of literary London was partly due to his mastery of the lofty, authoritative "we" of canonic critcism.
Kaleb Horton
Jul 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The man's critical faculties were machete sharp and scalpel precise. Every essay in here reads like the work of somebody with a desk full of papers who throws them all on the floor in one motion and starts from scratch. The craftsmanship and attack strategy is consistently illuminating. Reading his critical work is like watching fog dissipate.

A big chunk of this falls into hyper-specialized poetry and theater criticism that I have little use for, and religious writing that is specialized and spe
...more
John Jr.
As a poet and critic who was also a dramatist, Eliot occupied an unusual position among 20th-century English-language writers. His thoughts on earlier dramatists—who, we should recall, commonly wrote in verse—are useful for anyone encountering their work on stage or in print, and that's why I got hold of this collection, though it's important for other reasons as well. I'm dipping into it from time to time, as the occasion arises; for instance, I relied on it in assessing a production of Marlowe ...more
Ke
Oct 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would be lying if I said I was familiar with all the references made in this book. The fact is that Eliot is better read and knows more languages than I ever hope to achieve in this lifetime. Still, this book was really edifying.
Bob Mustin
Jul 04, 2011 rated it liked it
Eliot was born in the U.S., but following grad work at the Sorbonne and Oxford, Europe must have seemed more comfortable, because he stayed there for years. During these years, he began to make his mark as a poet, dramatist and literary critic. This book contains some of his most provocative literary critiques.

The book begins with Eliot’s view of literary talent and the role of criticism. In these two essays, he seems to presage postmodernism in his view that the writer can’t be extracted from
...more
Diane
Feb 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Read the Hamlet and Shakespeare essays. Eliot can distill so much into a single sentence. Good lead-in to reading Montaigne, who he and others believe had a strong influence on Shakespeare.
Billie Pritchett
I feel bad about giving T.S. Eliot's Selected Essays only two stars, since there are some terrific essays in here: for instance, "Shakespeare and the Stoicism of Seneca," "Hamlet and His Problems," "Dante," and the essays near the end on humanism. But try sitting through an essay on Cyril Tourneur or Philip Massinger and see if you're patience isn't tried. What Eliot is trying to do with this book is lay out his idea of a poetic canon. To sum up Eliot, poetry has given birth to two great geniuse ...more
Joyce
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
for a good stretch this was an easy five star book, then in the back end eliot sinks into writing about writers about whom there is no concern anymore (how could such an immortal writer dedicate so much time to someone like swinburne?) in a way that says nothing to those unfamiliar with those writers, and religious and social criticism which is both wildly outdated and at best distasteful (at worst decisively reprehensible)
bobbygw
Aug 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: readers of classic poetry, plays and novels (17th-20th centuries)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Liam Guilar
Feb 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
'You are a delusion, said roundly John Eglinton to Stephen. You have bought us all this way to show us a French triangle. Do you believe your own theory?
No, Stephen said promptly.' ('Ulysses', p.274.)

This book of essays is of historical value:, it offers an insight into what passed as non-academic literary criticism in the first part of the 20th century. It has biographical value for anyone interested in the development of Thomas Eliot’ s career; where it is worth remembering that he was public
...more
S
Feb 22, 2009 added it
What happens is a continual surrender of himself as he is at the moment to something which is more valuable. The progress of an artist is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality.

Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotion know what it means to want to escape from these things.
Christopher Koch
Jul 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Its nice to finds opinionation with which one agrees so nicely written down.
Bryan  Jones
Eliot's brilliance is clearly on display, but this book is so esoteric that only the highest levels of literary scholars could possibly draw from it.
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3,495 followers
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
“Someone said, 'The dead writers are remote from us because we know so much more than they did.' Precisely, and they are that which we know.” 54 likes
“The detective story, as created by Poe, is something as specialised and as intellectual as a chess problem, whereas the best English detective fiction has relied less on the beauty of the mathematical problem and much more on the intangible human element. [...] In The Moonstone the mystery is finally solved, not altogether by human ingenuity, but largely by accident. Since Collins, the best heroes of English detective fiction have been, like Sergeant Cuff, fallible.” 8 likes
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