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T. S. Eliot: The Contemporary Reviews

Revue Française d’Etudes Américaines (Fall 2004):
This volume, superbly edited by one of the most eminent Eliot scholars of today, Jewel Spears Brooker, ...aims at being the most comprehensive collection of contemporary reviews of Eliot’s work as it appeared, and the editor’s substantial preface maps out the contours of this vast territory... The inexhaustible richness of this anthology lies in the... gropings of the first reviewers sometimes at a loss towards an understanding of Eliot’s poetry... But the chief merit... lies in its progressive building up of a complex view of Eliot’s personality and work based on a series of... opposites: modern/Modernist, Anglo-American/European, personal/impersonal, subjective/objective, psychological/realistic, ...Cubistic/classical.”

South Atlantic Review (Spring 2005):
“Absolutely indispensable for Eliot scholars, devotees, critics, as well as for every library... This collection of... contemporary reviews... is a significant reference work which makes for fascinating reading; indeed, on more than one occasion I found myself unable to put it down as the next review always beckoned with the promise of additional brilliant insights from those who... had just encountered what often were entirely new ways of seeing expressed through entirely new techniques... It begins with Brooker’s superlative introduction in which she surveys the reviews, ...categorizing the views... of the major reviewers, many of whom were to become important literary critics... An invaluable addition to Eliot scholarship... , providing a fascinating, even spell-binding documentary of the immediate reception of the poetry, essays, and drama which played a major role in shaping the cultural and literary terrain of twentieth-century... literature.”

Modernism/Modernity (Nov. 2004):
T. S. Eliot: The Contemporary Reviews... holds countless surprises... Page after page in this judiciously edited book offers a richer, more nuanced sense of the dialogue that took place between Eliot and his contemporaries, a dialogue that was much more complicated than our increasingly stereotyped view of Eliot’s career would allow... Brooker has assembled an impressive scholarly achievement that will spark useful research and fruitful discussion for years to come. She deserves enormous credit for creating a volume that has wide implications for our understanding of Eliot’s oeuvre, carefully registering the fascination and the misgivings that it prompted among his contemporaries. Anyone interested in Eliot’s career will want to own this indispensable book.”

Yeats Eliot Review (Winter 2004):
“Brooker’s extensive and illuminating work to date in Eliot studies... would entitle her to being cited in any roll call of individuals who have contributed in extraordinary ways to... scholarship. That said, this latest achievement should... be regarded as another jewel in her already sparkling crown... The best part of the Brooker volume... is her meticulously extensive introductory essay... She provides a painstaking overview of Eliot and his critics that weights as much as summarizes, evaluates as much as categorizes. It provides... as good an introduction to the man and his work as one can find anywhere, making the pages... of historical data contained in the reviews... a long series of footnotes to her trenchant observations of Eliot’s literary career... in the making.”

Journal of Modern Literature (Summer 2005):
“These reviews of Eliot’s writings convey sharp impressions that had for me been dulled by scholarship... They provide not just a synopsis of reactions to Eliot but a picture of the decades he traversed. Differences of class, commitment, and national ethos emerge in the process of claiming... Eliot as a representative of the English or of the American tradition... Brooker provides a perceptive guide to these contentions.”

Studies in English Literature (Japan) (2007):
“Brooker’s introduction is a hitherto unprecedented example of authoritative scholarship in charting the course of Eliot’s ascending reputation... a majestically well-organized view of the growing momentum of Eliot’s reputation.”

Sewanee Review (Summer 2005):
“This book is a feast for Eliot scholars, whether professional or amateur. Along with her generous sampling of reviews, Brooker ends each segment... with a list of additional critical writings relevant to the part of Eliot’s oeuvre under discussion.”

English Language Notes (2005):
“Jewel Spears Brooker has long been known among Eliot scholars not just as an authoritative and penetrating student of the author and period, but also as someone familiar with the complexities of the poet’s personality and who remains unwilling to flatten them out in pursuit of easy applause... The reviews Professor Brooker collects accumulate into a Gosford Park view of literary criticism, allowing us behind the stately edifice of Eliot’s ouevre to see the turbulence, hostility, and exasperated admiration that goes into the making of a major literary reputation.”

Books and Culture (Sept/Oct 2005):
“These reviews are often remarkably insightful at the same time that they reveal divergences that continue to the present.”

Estudios Ingleses de la Universidad Complutense (Spain) (2005):
“Brooker is an experienced and prolific writer... and an acknowledged erudite on... T. S. Eliot... In her thorough introduction, ...she points out the most significant reviews, ...and the relevance they had on forging the writer’s career... Brooker’s ardous accomplishment... will become indispensable... for scholars and academic libraries alike.”

Partial Answers (Israel) (January 2006):
“Jewel Spears Brooker, herself a distinguished Eliot critic, has put us all in her debt in editing this astutely conceived, authoritative, immensely useful collection.”

English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920 (2005):
“Brooker has done a fine job executing this massive project... There is very little repetition of content, even in sections where an extremely generous number of reviews of individual work appear... Brooker’s excellent introduction provides a variety of very helpful contexts for reading the reviews.”

London Review of Books (4 November 2004):
“Brooker’s long introduction offers a just survey of Eliot’s largely cross-Atlantic career... she can reasonably claim that her book illuminates ‘the curve’ of Eliot’s reputation... The editor is American, and she is contributing to a series which gives the same treatment to Emerson, Edith Wharton, Ellen Glasgow, Faulkner, Melville and so on. Eliot’s presence on this list amounts to a claim that Eliot is an American author, a decision qualified by a willingness to be fair to the disappointed British: ‘since Eliot’s work was published first in London, this collection includes British and Irish reviews.’ ...much tedious editorial labour has been devoted to exhibit this anglicised and europhile poet as an American national treasure.”