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Biographia Literaria

It has been my lot to have had my name introduced both in conversation, and in print, more frequently than I find it easy to explain, whether I consider the fewness, unimportance, and limited circulation of my writings, or the retirement and distance, in which I have lived, both from the literary and political world. Most often it has been connected with some charge which I could not acknowledge, or some principle which I had never entertained. Nevertheless, had I had no other motive or incitement, the reader would not have been troubled with this exculpation. What my additional purposes were, will be seen in the following pages. It will be found, that the least of what I have written concerns myself personally. I have used the narration chiefly for the purpose of giving a continuity to the work, in part for the sake of the miscellaneous reflections suggested to me by particular events, but still more as introductory to a statement of my principles in Politics, Religion, and Philosophy, and an application of the rules, deduced from philosophical principles, to poetry and criticism. But of the objects, which I proposed to myself, it was not the least important to effect, as far as possible, a settlement of the long continued controversy concerning the true nature of poetic diction; and at the same time to define with the utmost impartiality the real poetic character of the poet, by whose writings this controversy was first kindled, and has been since fuelled and fanned.

Paradise Lost

Milton’s Paradise Lost (Books I through XII) is one of the greatest epic poems in the English language. It tells the story of the Fall of Man, a tale of immense drama and excitement, of rebellion and treachery, of innocence pitted against corruption, in which God and Satan fight a bitter battle for control of mankind’s destiny. The struggle rages across three worlds – heaven, hell, and earth – as Satan and his band of rebel angels plot their revenge against God. At the center of the conflict are Adam and Eve, motivated by all too human temptations, but whose ultimate downfall is unyielding love. Marked by Milton’s characteristic erudition is a work epic both in scale and, notoriously, in ambition. For nearly 350 years it has held generation upon generation of scholars, students and readers in rapt attention and its profound influence can be seen in almost every corner of Western culture.
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The Waste Land and Other Poems

Few readers need any introduction to the work of the most influential poet of the twentieth century. In addition to the title poem, this selecion includes “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, “Gerontion”, “Ash Wednesday”, and other poems from Mr. Eliot’s early and middle work.
“In ten years’ time,” wrote Edmund Wilson in Axel0s Castle (1931), “Eliot has left upon English poetry a mark more unmistakable than that of any other poet writing in English.” In 1948 Mr. Eliot was awarded the Nobel Prize “for his work as trail-blazing pioneer of modern poetry”.