Booklist review of 'Young Eliot'

  • Robert Crawford

Press/Media: Relating to Research

Period1 Feb 2015

Media coverage


Media coverage

  • TitleBooklist review of 'Young Eliot'
    Degree of recognitionInternational
    Media name/outletBooklist Online
    Media typeWeb
    Country/TerritoryUnited States
    DescriptionThe man whose The Bard (2009) dispelled the myths and mists about Robert Burns now publishes the first volume of a biography every bit as magisterial on the most consequential anglophone poet of the twentieth century. Indeed, revelation and enlightenment begin with the title, for the predominant conception of T. S. Eliot is that he was never young. Yet the milestone toward which this book proceeds, the epoch-making long (but hardly plethoric) modernist poem, The Waste Land (1922), was the work of a still-young man—moreover, tissue of allusions that it is, a work of memories amassed during an intense, busy youth. To keep the fact of Eliot’s early life constantly before us, Crawford always calls him Tom, as his family and friends did. Drawing on, besides the poet-critic’s published writing, an immense body of letters and other documents, Crawford maintains focus on the gestation of the poetry while Tom the boy, teenager, collegian, doctoral student at Oxford, and young banker dealt with handicaps (a hernia), learned sailing and tennis, enjoyed friendships, traveled, and fatefully married the chronic invalid, Vivien Haigh-Wood. All the while, he studied world literature and forged an understanding of tradition that remains among his greatest gifts to world culture. It’s hard to imagine a literary biography of greater merit being published this year.

    — Ray Olson
    PersonsRobert Crawford