The Sacred Wood
This seminal book, Eliot's first collection of literary criticism, appeared in London in 1920, two years before The Waste Land. It contains some of his most influential early essays and reviews, among them 'Tradition and the Individual Talent', 'Hamlet and his Problems', and Eliot's thoughts on Marlowe, Jonson and Massinger, as well as his first tribute to Dante. Many of his most famous critical pronouncements come from the pages of The Sacred Wood.
Reviewing his career as a critic in 1961 Eliot wrote that 'in my earlier criticism, both in my general affirmations about poetry and in writing about authors who influenced me, I was implicitly defending the sort of poetry that I and my friends wrote. This gave my essays a kind of urgency, the warmth of appeal of the advocate, which my later, more detached and I hope more judicial essays cannot claim.' This urgency is still apparent more than eighty years after the essays first appeared.