T. S. Eliot: Ash-Wednesday

(2802 words)

Ash-Wednesday, published in 1930 (and originally carrying a dedication to Eliot’s first wife, Vivien), is the most important of Eliot’s Christian poems – the later Four Quartets, although perhaps a greater poetic achievement, is more of a philosophical work, for all its ultimate Christian meaning. In Ash-Wednesday, Eliot explores most closely the feminine inspiration for faith in a Dantean celebration of the Virgin as a figure of transcendental beauty. The portrait and characterisation of her, and the response of the speaker to her, together amount to an extraordinary reversal of the negative representation of women in Eliot’s earlier poetry and the concomitant revulsion from or fear of …

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are not a subscriber, please click here to read about membership. All our articles have been written recently by experts in their field, more than 95% of them university professors.

Citation:
Spurr, Barry. "Ash-Wednesday". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 29 December 2008
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=6528, accessed 20 September 2014.]