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The programme examines the importance of T.S.Eliot's American background for an understanding of his poetry. The programme begins with T.S. Eliot reading the opening of his poem 'East Coker' over p...hotographs of East Coker in Somerset, the village where Eliot is buried and which his puritan ancestors left in 1669 to sail to America. We then move to the Massachussetts coast of America, where Graham Martin Reader in Literature at the Open University, introduces the programme from Eliot's childhood home on Eastern Point, Cape Anne, At Princeton University, Graham Martin interviews Professor Walton Litz, Chairman of the Department of Egglish. Professor Litz believes that Eliot is a deeply American poet, and traces the importance of Eliot's American education and his memory of childhood scenes and experiences on his poetry. The programme ends with T.S. Eliot reading the opening of the 'Dry Salvages'.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: A306, Twentieth century poetry
Item code: A306; 05
First transmission date: 03-04-1976
Published: 1976
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:24:30
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Producer: Paul Kafno
Contributors: Arthur Walton Litz; Graham Martin
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Dry salvages; East Coker; Language
Subject terms: Poetry; Eliot, T. S. (Thomas Stearns), 1888-1965
Footage description: The programme begins with T.S. Eliot reading the opening lines of his poem East Coker over photographs of East Coker in Somerset, the village where he is buried. From Eliot's father's house in Massachusetts Graham Martin describes Eliot's youth in St. Louis and in New England. He suggests that Eliot's background was to have a great influence on his poetry. Over photographs of the young Eliot, Martin reads a letter from the poet to Herbert Read, describing his American background. Martin interviews Professor Walton Litz of Princeton University. Litz maintains that Eliot is a deeply American poet. He describes Eliot's very broad Harvard education which he argues was uniquely American. In particular he stresses Eliot's study of Harvard as being of primary importance. He claims that Eliot's education was crucial and eventually led to his leadership of the Modernist movement. The interview continues with Litz comparing Eliot with Henry James. He and Martin discuss Eliot's early life in England, culminating in his adoption of British citizenship. Photographs of the Criterion, which Eliot edited, and of Eliot in England. Litz then discusses Eliot's work of 1928-32, culminating in his visit to America. He argues that this is evidence of the strength of his American background. Litz reads the poem Cape Ann. Martin points out that the poetry of the American landscapes represents a break with Eliot's earlier work, Litz explains how Eliot valued his childhood experiences as a stimulus to his poetry. Litz maintains that Eliot treats his English and American subjects very differently. He quotes from Eliot's lectures and essays to illustrate his arguments. Photographs of Eliot in old age and of the church in East Coker where he is buried. The programme concludes with film of a New England coast, over which Eliot reads the opening of The Dry Salvages.
Master spool number: 6HT/71911
Production number: 00525_3186
Videofinder number: 716
Available to public: no