John T. Mayer

T. S. Eliot's Silent Voices

Copyright © 1989 by Oxford University Press, Inc.

The blurb from the dust jacket:

This is the first comprensive, in-depth study of Eliot's unpublished verse. Through a close reading of these poems, Mayer offers as well a fresh reading of the familiar works by approaching them as a Modernist poetry of consciousness, enactments of the mind that constitute a new poetic form, the psychic monologue. In a groundbreaking analysis he locates the heart of Eliot's early work in the recurrence of psychic patterns that can be read in part as a reflection of the poet's inner struggles and his restless, intense search for meaning, self-identity, personal relationship, and self-survival.

After tracing this psychic emphasis in the unpublished poetry, the well-known works, and the still relatively unknown poems contained in The Waste Land manuscript, Mayer concludes with a new reading of The Waste Land as the culmination of Eliot's psychic style, a poetic of silent voices. He argues that the unique and decisive functioning of voice in the text makes The Waste Land a poem that is, simultaneously, process and vision: the act through which its voices inhabit and shape the questing consciousness also articulates the poem's vision.

In calling attention to the operation of play and routines, the interplay of city and psyche, and the relationship between voices and vision in all of Eliot's early poetry, Mayer establishes the undeniable value of Eliot's unpublished verse in shaping the form and preoccupations of his early poetry.

This important and original study, through its emphasis upon Eliot's unpublished poetry and the psychic character of his early style, is essential for a complete understanding of Eliot's achievement as a commanding figure of 20th-century literature. "The more we know of Eliot," said Pound "the better."

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Mayer, John T. (John Theodore), 1933-
T. S. Eliot's silent voices / John T. Mayer
p.    Cm.
Bibliography: p.
Includes index.
1. Eliot, T. S. (Thomas Sterns), 1888-1965.
Criticism and interpretation.      I. Title. PS3509.L43Z79      1989
821'.912--dc 19      88-25362    CIP ISBN 0-19-505668-X

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