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In A GUIDE TO THE SELECTED POEMS OF T.S. ELIOT the critic B.C. Southam has prepared an ideal guide for students new to T.S. Eliot's poetry. Southam is adamant about seeking to help students who have already been attracted by Eliot's work to form their own appreciation and understanding.Though I've been a fan of T.S. Eliot for many years, I learned quite a bit from Southam's notes. All four "Ariel Poems" - which are deceptively simple and difficult for students to penetrate - are covered in depth...
So if you're going to read Eliot, you really should at least have a perfunctory understanding of his manifold allusions. This is the basic guide that folks use and it's pretty helpful. I've heard the Norton Critical edition (ed. Michael North) is better, but it's harder to get your hands on (it's on order!). Sometimes Southam's notes are annoying; he makes connections that are really not there (like anytime he mentions Joyce, just block him out). However, I do think that you need something to he...
Very highly recommended to those getting to know Eliot's poetry. The only fault I find is that there were a few things I would have lined to look up that were not included. Most problems in Eliot's challenging work just melt away.