Exploring The Waste Land
A biography page linked from The Waste Land, Part III, line 309

Buddhist influence
Line 309

On the collocation of eastern and western asceticism

Stephen Spender, the poet, critic and friend of T.S. Eliot wrote:

After his return from Paris in 1911, he [Eliot] joined C.R. Lanman's Indic philology course and studied Sanskrit and Indian Philosophy for two years. He became rather mystical, though distrusting this tendency in himself. But Buddhisim remained a lifelong influence in his work and at the time when he was writing The Waste Land, he almost became a Buddhist--or so I once heard him tell the Chilean poet Gabriele Mistral, who was herself a Buddhist. The Buddhist and Christian mysticisms in the Four Quartets seem very close.[1]

In 1927, the same year that Eliot became a British subject, he also underwent a religious conversion and became a devoted member of the Church of England. In the preface to his 1928 book of essays For Lancelot Andrewes Eliot prepared the reader for what was being presented by writing:

The general point of view may be described as classicist in literature, royalist in politics, and anglo-catholic in religion.[2]


  1. Spender, Stephen, T.S. Eliot, New York: The Viking Press, (1975) p. 20 (ISBN 0-670-29184-6)

  2. Eliot, T.S., For Lancelot Andrewes, London: Faber & Gwyer, (1928) p. ix
Faber and Gwyer is now Faber and Faber.

Exploring The Waste Land
File name: bq309.html
File date: Sunday, September 29, 2002
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