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T.S. Eliot and Renaissance Drama

Toda, K; (2015) T.S. Eliot and Renaissance Drama. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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The crucial importance of non-Shakespearian Renaissance dramatists to T.S. Eliot is evident in both his poetry and his prose. Eliot himself drew attention to this: he credited his own ‘poetic formation’ to the ‘minor Elizabethan dramatists’, and when reviewing his ‘critical output for the last thirty-odd years’ in 1951, he confessed himself ‘surprised to find how constantly I have returned to the drama, whether by examining the work of the contemporaries of Shakespeare, or by reflecting on the possibilities of the future.’ As C.S. Lewis disapprovingly wrote, Eliot’s ‘sympathy with depraved poets (Marlowe, Jonson, Webster) is apparent’. This thesis will trace Eliot’s engagement with these dramatists; it is a topic that has been comparatively neglected despite the central role it played in the evolution of his poetic and critical sensibility. The first section, which is largely biographical, explores Eliot’s background and education for clues to the development of his great interest in Renaissance drama, as well as detailing the ways in which he pursued this interest when he moved to England. The second comprises a detailed study of Eliot’s many essays on Renaissance dramatists. The last section examines his poetry, from the juvenilia to The Waste Land of 1922, when the outward signs of his ‘saturation’ were particularly prominent. In my conclusion I discuss how his engagement with Renaissance drama evolved in his post-1922 poetry and culminated in the composition of his own verse plays. The aim of this thesis is to explore the nature of the ‘profound kinship’ Eliot shared with Renaissance dramatists; their work appealed to him because it combines erudition with emotion, refinement with savagery, levity with the macabre and squalid. This appeal was so strong that it powerfully shaped both his poetic ideals and his vision of modernity.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: T.S. Eliot and Renaissance Drama
Language: English
Keywords: T.S. Eliot, Jacobean, Renaissance, Elizabethan, Marlowe, Webster, Jonson, Chapman, Heywood, Beaumont and Fletcher, Kyd, Tourneur, Middleton, Marston, Shakespeare, Massinger
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1463322
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