Great Books 102: Renaissance to Modern

Eliot's Poetry: Tradition's Dialogue with Modernity


T.S. Eliot—an American by birth who later became a British subject by choice—was one of the preeminent poets of the 20th century. In his poetry, which took the form of free verse, Eliot attempted to combine the freedom of Whitman with the form of Baudelaire. In exploring this mastery, one discovers the rhythm, order, and structure of Eliot, which helped to revitalize contemporary poetry and secure a place for it in the great conversation of Western literature.


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Discussion Questions

  • What was the state of poetry in the early 20th century?
  • How did Eliot use Dante and other Western writers as models for his writings?
  • How does Eliot view the Western tradition? How is his view different from Ezra Pound's?

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Q & A Session

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Dutton Kearney is an Assistant Professor of English at Hillsdale College. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Dallas.