Monday, 12 November 2012

George Orwell on the Religious Emphasis of Eliot's "Four Quartets"

I've just been doing a little bit of work on T.S. Eliot's "Four Quartets" for an online learning module, and have realized that this long sequence of poems fills me with a certain ambivalence about its poetic "quality." On the one hand, I think it's the most beautiful thing Eliot ever wrote; on the other, I think that the thing is really prosaic and (as Eliot himself feared) hastily written compared to his earlier stuff. Maybe the whole thing wants the intervention of Ezra Pound's red pen...

In any case, I came across the following review that George Orwell wrote about the first three poems in "Four Quartets," and can honestly say that this guy is a genius when it comes to articulating some of the things I feel about Eliot's work. I think this is a piece of great criticism, and just wanted to share it:


  1. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  2. Happy to do it! I find it's a very interesting piece of writing.

  3. The supplied link to this essay no longer works. The only copy I have been unable to unearth is part of a longer PDF, here:,%20George%20-%20Collected%20Essays%201940-1943.pdf

  4. Today, !7 August 2017, I came across your site as a result of trying to track down a George Orwell quote about Eliot.

    I have to say, as much as I adore Eliot, you are right about the questionable or ambivalent quality of Four Quartets, a poem I still admire. I, too, have often thought what if Pound had been around: he could have done for Four Quartets what he did for The Wasteland!!