Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Preface

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pp. vii-ix

FEW topics in modern letters have aroused more animated debate than the vicissitudes of T. S. Eliot's poetic career. In the nineteen-twenties, the poet's conversion to Anglo-Catholicism was regarded as a "defection" by the generation which had hailed the poet of The Waste Land as its spokesman. Eliot's second...

Contents

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p. xi

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I. The Pursuit of Order

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pp. 3-31

THE growing number of plays which T. S. Eliot has presented to the public and has carefully seen through production has made it impossible to ignore the importance of the fact that he has chosen to devote the major part of his creative energies in his later years to the theater. Attempts to explain this phenomenon...

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II. Sweeney Agonistes

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pp. 32-75

THERE has been an atmosphere of mystified fascination surrounding Sweeney Agonistes since its first appearance in the New Criterion in 1926 and 1927.1 Many factors contributed to this attitude. Its publication in the form of "fragments" suggested that a complete dramatic work would be forthcoming...

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III. The Rock and Murder in the Cathedral

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pp. 76-111

WHEN T. S. Eliot returned to dramatic writing in 1934, it was as a writer of occasional drama, for both The Rock (1934) and Murder in the Cathedral (1935) were "made-to-order" works intended for church occasions. This fact helps to explain the obvious differences, especially in the poet's attitude toward....

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IV. The Family Reunion

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pp. 112-146

IN The Family Reunion (1939) Eliot abandoned both the "furnished-flat" atmosphere of Sweeney Agonistes and the historical setting of Murder in the Cathedral in favor of the drawing-room world of polite society and a verse somewhat closer to contemporary speech than that employed in his earlier plays. While these...

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V. The Cocktail Party

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pp. 147-183

The Cocktail Party was presented to the public in 1949 with the phrase "A Comedy" conspicuously appended to the title. The evident seriousness of Eliot's religious message in Murder in the Cathedral and The Family Reunion and the earnestness of his determination to have that message accepted by...

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VI. The Confidential Clerk

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pp. 184-213

WHEN The Confidential Clerk was presented at the 1953 Edinburgh Festival and soon after in New York, it was the "farce" or "high comedy" quality of the play which caused the most comment among audiences and critics.1 While it was apparent to all observers that the author presented a dramatic surface...

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VII. The Elder Statesman

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pp. 214-240

The Elder Statesman is a fitting play with which to close a study of Eliot's drama for it stresses the quality of divine resolution and reconciliation to God's will through human love which are the keynotes of Eliot's thought in his most recent writings.1 Both...

Bibliography

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pp. 241-246

Index

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pp. 247-251