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Four Quartets 1st Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0156332255
ISBN-10: 0156332256
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Published in the fiery days of World War II, Four Quartets stands as a testament to the power of poetry amid the chaos of the time. Let the words speak for themselves: "The dove descending breaks the air/With flame of incandescent terror/Of which the tongues declare/The only discharge from sin and error/The only hope, or the despair/Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre--/To be redeemed from fire by fire./Who then devised this torment?/Love/Love is the unfamiliar Name/Behind the hands that wave/The intolerable shirt of flame/Which human power cannot remove./We only live, only suspire/Consumed by either fire or fire." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

I submit this quotation as one of the finest lyrics written in our time ... I strongly recommend a reading of Mr. T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets. -- The New York Times Book Review, Horace Gregory --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (March 20, 1968)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156332256
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156332255
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,091 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Christopher Culver TOP 1000 REVIEWER on August 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
FOUR QUARTETS marks T.S. Eliot's crowning acheivement as a poet. It is the last substantial poetry he wrote before turning to drama and consists of four poems each with a five-part structure. The work as a whole is concerned with the perception of time, linked with the importance of poetic art and the place of Christianity in deciphering the meaning of one's lifetime.
After two quotations from Heraclitus, "Burnt Norton" opens the collection. Here Eliot muses on the idea that all possible outcomes of any event are secretly around us, unseen and unperceived. An empty pool is, in some other reality, filled with water and a blooming lotus. Eliot's metaphysical insight here is reminiscent of quantum theory that was then beginning to become the rage in physics circles. These speculations are tricky and difficult to get one's head around, and even more difficult to plainly put into words, but Eliot manages to succeed.
"East Coker", named after the town in England from where Eliot's Puritan ancestor emigrated to America, deals with the cyclical nature of time. Here the poet surveys the tendency for all earthly things to rise and ultimately fall. Christianity with its emphasis on eternal life, asserts Eliot, promises a way to change one's end to one's beginning and escape the fall into oblivion that dooms everything.
"The Dry Salvages", in reference to a place on the New England shore which Eliot visited as a youth, is the weak point of the collection. A rumination with a nautical theme, the poem suffers from meandering phrasing and peculiar wording. Its Marian devotion is inconsistent with the Puritan/Anglican tradition of the rest of FOUR QUARTETS.
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Format: Paperback
I am a deeply religious Sikh living in America. The Four Quartets is to me a shining example of a man of deep understanding of God and reality. I have read this poem many times since I first read it back in college. It speaks directly to my soul. There is no passage, no phrase, which does not work for me.

I read some sections to my wife when we were first married, and she thought that it was an English translation of the Sikh holy texts.

"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time"

There is no better explanation of Eastern religion than this. I am eternally grateful for this work.
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A kind friend introduced me to this book 25 years ago. It is so full of real life, as it is. In grasping for words to describe what cannot be described by words, T.S.Eliot has written a masterpiece that will endure for as long as there are people to read books. Each reading takes you inside, yet out of time a space. If I could pick the most meaningful book I have ever encountered, this would be it... the one you take to that desert island; the one you take with you through your life. Don't analyze this book, let it reach out to you, allow it to become an old friend, and it will enrich your life.
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This is a tiny book, more like a pamphlet, only 58 pages long with large print and some blank pages as part of the design. But it is mighty in its impact. These "four quartets" are four of T. S. Eliot's poems meditating (among other things) on the nature of time - time past, time present, time future...If you are of my generation and have read the poems before, you might love carrying this little book around just to dip into it for a line or two, and maybe understand something you never understood before. (T. S. Eliot is not always an easy read.) If you have never read them before, I envy you!
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Among all these reviews, not one comes to terms with the very title of this opus: Four Quartets. When was Eliot anything but precise in his choice of word?

The inspiration for these poems -- or reflections -- are the late string quartets of Beethoven, those numbered from 12 through 16. It is the 5-movement No.15 in A Minor,Op.132, that seems to have exerted the strongest influence, with it's famous adagio movement, which Beethoven inscribed as the thanksgiving song of a convalescent.

Actually, No.15 was the 13th in order, but the Quartets were published out of sequence, which was not uncommon in Beethoven's time. The Late Quartets progress from the classic 4-movement No.12 and add a movement to each work up to the 7-movement Op.131 in C-sharp Minor. The 16th and final quartet returns to the classic 4-movement form. There is an expansion of form concluding with a contraction and return over the course of 5 works.

Like Eliot's Four Quartets, Beethoven's Late Quartets reflect upon time and faith -- and the 'speech' is often plain: repeated phrases that appear stuck in a groove, hammered chords, cheap tunes that seem to be lifted from a band in a local inn; from long-breathed melodies that look beyond what Wagner and Mahler will eventually bring to music, to cell-like motivs not heard again till Bartok and Webern.

The 'learned' aspect of Eliot's verse can lead us astray, so that we are forever parsing the meaning of the lines. I am taken with the sounds he makes as I read the poems aloud, and the sounds he chose to convey what the poems mean are, in a sense, the essence of meaning. From the first I was struck by the sheer sound of 'time' in the context of these Quartets, which are Eliot's swan song.
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