now incorporating the Sudbury Hill and Wood End Times

Sunday, June 07, 2009

T.S. Eliot: fascinating Arena special

BBC iPlayer - Arena: TS Eliot
For a limited time. UK only

"For the first time on television, Arena tells the whole story of the life and work of TS Eliot including the happiness he found in the last years of life in his second marriage. His widow Valerie Eliot has opened her personal archive, hitherto unseen, including the private scrapbooks and albums in which Eliot assiduously recorded their life together."

This is a keeper.* Superb archive footage, commentary from Seamus Heaney and others. Endless joys. As well as many readings by Eliot, there is film of Ezra Pound, Stephen Spender, W. H. Auden, a lot of fascinating archive film, including such things as a glimpse of Trotsky addressing a rally, pictures of pages from the original of The Waste Land edited by Ezra Pound etc etc etc.

I'm updating this as I watch the program. Fascinating section towards the end about Eliot's apparent anti-Semitism, with an account of Litvinoff's counterblast from the poet himself, Danny Abse and others. Eliot was present (unexpectedly) at the event described, and his reactions are recalled.


* With the new iPlayer download manager, if you download a program you get an MP4 file but whether you can save this and defy the expiry of the temporary license is not clear.

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