The centenary of Eliot's birth in 1988 provided the salutary occasion to go back to his life and work, to reassess him in the light of issues raised by various critical movements--the new historicism, feminism, reader-reception theory--that have come to the fore since the New Criticism poststructuralist. This sort of reassessment is the lively and pertinent idea behind Ronald Bush's collection of new essays on Eliot. The essays assembled vary in approach, but share a commitment to the discipline of history, and an awareness that history can function as critique as well as celebration. Many of the essays take issue with Eliot's self-presentation and include documents Eliot chose not to emphasize. Some press the limits of literary and intellectual history to enter areas of cultural practice, stressing the institutions of publishing and the social processes of gender formation. Other essays address issues such as the direction of twentieth-century writing, the impact of self-professed masculinist poetry on women readers, and whether modernism's social values were really consistently inimical to liberal visions of the future.
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