T. S. Eliot and Organicism

BookT. S. Eliot and Organicism

T. S. Eliot and Organicism

Clemson University Press


December 12th, 2018



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T. S. Eliot and Organicism provides the first comprehensive account of Eliot’s preoccupation with agrarianism, organicism and the environment. Jeremy Diaper elucidates and contextualizes several facets of Eliot’s organic thinking, ranging from composting and soil fertility, to regionalism, nutrition and culinary skills. Through detailed examination of Eliot’s engagement with organic issues, this book offers environmental readings of Eliot’s poetry and plays and demonstrates that agrarian concerns emerge as a notable theme in his literary output – from his earliest notebook of poems known as Inventions of the March Hare to Murder in the Cathedral. This book also analyzes Eliot’s prose to illuminate his engagement with the key environmental debates which were taking place during the 1930s-50s. Diaper offers a thorough analysis of Eliot’s social criticism and explores his perturbation regarding the decline of agriculture in After Strange Gods, The Idea of a Christian Society and Notes Towards the Definition of Culture. T. S. Eliot and Organicism breaks new ground by demonstrating that a thorough understanding of Eliot’s engagement with environmentalism is vital to our interpretation of both his poetry and prose. It establishes that one of the twentieth century’s most eminent literary figures should be remembered for his important role in the emergence of the organic husbandry movement and for his wide-ranging comments on a variety of environmental and organic issues.

‘The most valuable part of T. S. Eliot and Organicism is its thorough trawling through the files of the New English Weekly and the Christian News-Letter, two publications which Eliot supported and contributed to, especially once the Criterion had closed. This yields ample evidence of parallels between that of Eliot's work and a number of prominent writers on agriculture and its place in a good society.’
Stefan Collini, The Times Literary Supplement

‘Jeremy Diaper's lucid and detailed study locates Eliot at the heart of the early organic movement ... this book will prove essential reading not only for students of organicism, but for all those with a general interest in the culture of mid-twentieth-century England as reflected in the work of its greatest modernist poet.’
Richard Moore-Colyer, Rural History

‘Jeremy Diaper’s argument in T. S. Eliot and Organicism goes way beyond such circumstantial considerations, though, presenting a wealth of evidence to show that Eliot attached great importance to farming and to a thriving rural culture and economy… Diaper’s monograph offers a convincing case for T. S. Eliot’s major role in propagating the organicist philosophy.’
Philip Conford, Agricultural History Review


T. S. Eliot and Organicism’s profound reconsideration of Eliot’s organic thinking will undoubtedly inspire future approaches to ecocriticism and Eliot Studies.’
Clint Wilson, Time Present


Author Information

Jeremy Diaper has published numerous articles and chapters on T. S. Eliot's agrarianism and the history of the organic husbandry movement. His essays have appeared in Agricultural History, Agricultural History Review, the Journal of the T. S. Eliot Society UK, T. S. Eliot Studies Annual and Literature & History. He is currently editing a special issue of Modernist Cultures on "Modernism and the Environment" and a volume of essays on Eco-Modernism.