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Words Alone: The Poet T. S. Eliot Hardcover – October 11, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Best known for a critical biography of Pater (Lover of Strange Souls) and for the lucid canon defense The Practice of Reading, New York University English professor Donoghue offers what he describes as an intellectual memoir of his ever-growing interest in the work of T.S. Eliot. Light on memoirAhe states that he was born in Ireland, but omits any mention of the yearADonoghue mainly focuses on a lot of literary analysis. Seekers of insights into the ever-hot topic of Eliot's anti-Semitism may be disappointed by Donoghue's approach, which is to list at length varying views from different critics, as if to paralyze the reader and defuse this potentially inflammatory subject. Concluding that there is "a range of respectable judgments available on the anti-Semitic aspects" of the blatantly nasty poem "Burbank with a Baedeker: Bleistein with a Cigar," Donoghue ignores the question of whether his own book respects too many judgments by others, rather than advancing anything original in a crowded field. The intellectual memoir conceit degrades into a recitation of which book by which critic had appeared by a given year of Donoghue's early academic employment, and there are few things duller to read than that. Whether readers consider Eliot to be a dry and overrated anti-Semitic horror or a great modern poet, or even both, few will find this attempt at a generalist's overview satisfying. (Nov.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"A probing and wide-ranging examination of Eliot's poetry that treats the work with respectful seriousness." -- The New York Times Book Review

"A timely, accessible, and courageous revaluation of Eliot…fresh…strewn with phrases that possess epigrammatic wisdom." -- Gregory Wolfe, Commonweal

"Eliot's [made] palpable the vanity of human wishes. . . . Donoghue's achievement . . .is to help us enter more fully into that expression." -- William H. Pritchard, Boston Sunday Globe

"Superb. . . . Words Alone bears the stamp of someone who has lived with this poetry, not merely studied it." -- Steven Moore, Book World

"[Donoghue] has given us the best book written so far about Eliot…[Words Alone is] a work of art." -- Jeffrey Hart, National Review

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (October 11, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300083297
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300083293
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,335,541 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Susan on November 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr Donoghue's book is that rarest of things when it comes to understanding Eliot: Accessible. Many scholars seem to have built careers making the sometimes intellectually challenging Eliot even more challenging. Donoghue does the opposite. For all those undergraduates out there who have found Eliot frustrating, I suggest you look here for help. Eliot is far too important to be dismissed out of impatience. He is simply not to be missed by any lover of English. Donoghue offers clear, easily readable, readily digestible pathways to understanding Eliot's poetry and why it has had such a powerful influence on modern thought.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If the goal of this book was to make Eliot more accessible, the author has succeeded.
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