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Title: Spiritual development in the poetry of T.S. Eliot
Author: Mahfoud, Bassima
ISNI:       0000 0004 2674 7671
Awarding Body: Sheffield Hallam University
Current Institution: Sheffield Hallam University
Date of Award: 2009
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Spiritual development is a major theme in Eliot's poetry. Most previous criticism, both that focused on the life and that focused on the poetry has represented his spiritual biography either as being purely Christian or as being divided into two stages (atheist and Anglican respectively). Other criticism has highlighted non-Christian influences in Eliot's poetry, but without considering how they interact with his Christianity. In fact, Eliot developed two kinds of belief: the first an exoteric belief which presents him formally as an Anglican, and the second an esoteric, more private spirituality, expressed through his poetry in which Eliot incorporates multiple beliefs into one new whole. Even after conversion, Eliot's poetry continues to present Christian and non-Christian themes which show continuity with his earlier poetry. This thesis argues that Eliot's belief, as developed through his poetry, is a highly unconventional version of belief which constructs a new spirituality from elements of Unitarianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sufism and Anglicanism. Eliot started his spiritual journey at an early stage. Although his early poems do not give a clear idea about his beliefs, they show the initial shaping and incorporation of multiple themes. The early chapters of this thesis examine the shaping of Eliot's unconventional belief. In early poems, Eliot uses the method of observing places and people and relating episodes as well as experimenting with the poetic forms in order to convey his spiritual views. He also presents modem civilisation and urban aspects, like traffic, as hostile to any spiritual experience. The sixth and seventh chapters investigate how Eliot develops the same themes of earlier poems such as Indie concepts of karma, reincarnation, Nirvana; Sufi images of travel and symbols of spirituality; Christian themes of Original Sin and Incarnation and Unitarian interests in people's everyday life rather than afterlife, using fewer episodes and more wisdom-like method. The final chapter, in particular, shows that, by Four Quartets, the urban landscape is used by Eliot as a possible host for meditation and enlightenment. It also examines Four Quartets as Eliot's complete spiritual statement which marks the culmination of his unique experience of constructing his individual unorthodox belief. The main focus in this thesis is on the themes. However, an examination of the form is provided whenever the form particularly highlights the themes.
Supervisor: Hopkins, Chris Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available