"Home is where one starts from:" Space in Selected Poems of T.S. Eliot
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of English Honors Theses; 2009
The modernist poet T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) was the author of canonical works such as The Waste Land, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and The Four Quartets. Much critical work has been done on Eliot's poetry to examine the presence in it of various world religions, anti-Semitism, feminism, mysticism, philosophy, Christian theology and criticism of the modern world. However, not much has been written about the organization and function of space in his poetry. In my research, I seek to investigate how setting, space and geography affect and organize Eliot's poetry, and vice-versa, how Eliot's poetry organizes space. I plan to survey nearly all of Eliot's published poetry, but will pay special attention to The Waste Land, The Preludes, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and The Four Quartets, as their subject matter is especially related to my proposed topic. I intend to investigate specifically: instances of interior and exterior spaces, urban environments and landscapes that occur throughout Eliot's poetry. In addition to the poems themselves, I am consulting theorists like Gabriel Zoran, Mikhail Bakhtin and Marie-Laure Ryan who write on space in literature. The results I have found are that each different type of space signals a different psychological condition that either the narrator or the poet himself inhabits, or that the reader is to adopt as he or she reads through the poem. The codification of types of space is important because it helps the reader understand and make sense of Eliot's difficult poetry and can also offer insight into the difficult period of modernist poetry as a whole.
Undergraduate Research Scholarship, awarded December 2008
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