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This literary biography is being reissued because editor Lockerd (English language & literature, Grand Valley State Univ.; Aethereal Rumours: T.S. Eliot's Physics and Poetics), who pens a new introduction, feels it is the best such work on poet T.S. Eliot among the many other Eliot biographies published since its initial appearance in 1971 (rev. ed., 1984). Lockerd notes that the book's author, Kirk (The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot), now deceased, was especially qualified to write about Eliot because they were friends toward the end of the poet's life. As a result, the book is somewhat subjective in its adulation as Kirk analyzes Eliot's works and relates them to various aspects of 20th-century civilization. Kirk defines "moral imagination" as a means to establish order in the soul and the commonwealth, and he focuses on Eliot's conservatism, which, opposing both fascism and communism, saw Christianity as the basis for the ideal state. The postscript to the 1984 edition evaluates other works on Eliot and refutes what Kirk called "psychobiographers," or writers attempting to read too much into their subject's life and literary output. A scholarly study recommended for academic libraries not owning the earlier editions.
—Denise J. Stankovics