T.S. Eliot's literary epigraphs : explications of selected poems

No Thumbnail Available
Lipartito, David
Thornburg, Thomas R.
Issue Date
Thesis (M.A.)
Other Identifiers

While T.S. Eliot's mastery of the literary epigraph has often been noted, few detailed studies of his use of this technique have been attempted. The epigraph is found to be deeply rooted in the poet's fundamental aesthetic and philosophical belief, as revealed by his own critical writings. Similarly, Eliot's use of this poetic device is found to be consistent with the themes and motifs of his pre-Christian poems.Moreover, a close comparative reading of selected poems from the poet's pre-Christian period and the original works from which the epigraphs to these poems are taken demonstrates the internal thematic consistency of this body of work. Reading the poems in this manner reveals the poet's gradual movement from a despairing vision of the human condition toward a vision infused with the hopefulness of the Christian mystery. Such a reading, the study suggests, helps explain Eliot's conversion to Christianity and reconciles apparent conflicts in the poet's life and work.