Thomas Stearns (T.S.) Eliot
For many readers, T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) is synonymous with modernism. Everything about his poetry bespeaks high modernism: its use of myth to undergird and order atomized modern experience; its collage-like juxtaposition of different voices, traditions, and discourses; and its focus on form as the carrier of meaning. His critical prose set the aesthetic standards for the New Criticism, and his journal Criterion was one of the primary arbiters of taste throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s. Eliot’s wide-ranging but relatively small corpus of work – the precocious “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1915), the seminal The Waste Land (1922), and the later Four Quartets (1943), which Eliot considered his masterpiece – has made him the primary figure of modernist poetry both for his peers and for subsequent generations.