'A wrong attitude towards nature': T. S. Eliot and agriculture

Diaper, Jeremy Charles Rupert (2015). 'A wrong attitude towards nature': T. S. Eliot and agriculture. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis provides the first full-length study of T. S. Eliot’s concern with agriculture. It examines Eliot’s consideration of agrarian issues within his social criticism of the 1930s-50s in relation to the organic thought of the period, and establishes that he should be considered an influential figure in the Christian context of the British organic husbandry movement. In doing so it explores the importance of his roles as the editor of the \(Criterion\), a director of Faber, and a member of the editorial board of the \(New\) \(English\) \(Weekly\) and the \(Christian\) \(News-Letter\). This thesis also compares Eliot’s religious agrarianism with the farming communities formed by Rolf Gardiner, Ronald Duncan and John Middleton Murry. It emphasizes that, for Eliot, “a wrong attitude towards nature” was as much overvaluing it as undervaluing it, and illustrates that his idea of an agricultural community advanced in the 1930s-40s was in no way idealized. In addition, it demonstrates that Eliot’s agricultural concerns emerged as a notable theme in his literary output – from his early notebook of poems known as \(Inventions\) \(of\) \(the\) \(March\) \(Hare\) up to \(Murder\) \(in\) \(the\) \(Cathedral\) and \(Four\) \(Quartets\). For the first time at any length, it offers readings of Eliot’s \(oeuvre\) in light of his sustained preoccupation with organic issues. This thesis breaks new ground by demonstrating that a thorough understanding of Eliot’s engagement with agriculture is vital to our interpretation of both his poetry and prose.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/5804


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