Words Alone: The Poet T. S. Eliot, by Denis Donoghue

Denis Donoghue describes his book as "partly a memoir, partly a study of Eliot's poetry." When the two parts come together his book moves with uncommon gracefulness. University Professor and Henry James Professor of English and American Letters at New York University, Donoghue best serves the general reader when he writes about his struggles with Eliot's complex language and the pleasures to be found in it. Both readers interested in the nature of poetic language and those troubled by the carping criticism aimed at Eliot in recent decades will find Donoghue an illuminating guide. But perhaps too often for the nonexpert, Donoghue wanders into the "tedious arguments" and "half-deserted streets" of scholarly criticism rather than toward the "overwhelming questions" of the universe.

 

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