Study Guide

T.S. Eliot The Four Quartets

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The Four Quartets

In 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, prompting England and other countries to declare war. As Eliot monitored the sky for German warplanes during the bombing of London, he began writing a series of poems later known as the Four Quartets. Each poem—"Burnt Norton," "East Coker," "The Dry Salvages," and "Little Gidding"—was a meditation on time. The poems also each reflected one of the four seasons as well as one of the four elements. Like The Waste Land, the poems were not an easy read, drawing heavily upon mythology and Christian symbolism. Eliot considered the series his masterpiece.
In his later years, Eliot wrote more plays than poems, including the Tony Award-winning play The Cocktail Party. Though his plays were well-received, they were never as well-known as his verse. It perhaps didn't help that, with his plays, Eliot disliked giving up creative control of his words to actors. He once said (in a huff, we imagine), "The interest of a performer is almost certain to be centred in himself: a very slight acquaintance with actors and musicians will testify."blank" rel="nofollow">Prufrock, T.S. Eliot dared to disturb the universe. It's never been quite the same since.

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