Join us for an extraordinary journey at the turn of the year, as Jeremy Irons reads the complete collection of T.S.Eliot’s English poems, almost in their entirety, across New Year’s Day. This celebration of Eliot’s work comes in five parts, each of which are introduced by Martha Kearney and special guests, including the actress Fiona Shaw, the writer Jeanette Winterson, Rory Stewart MP, and the lawyer Anthony Julius. At the end of a year in which so much that had been taken for granted seemed to fragment, our guests explain why Eliot, himself a poet of fragments, can steady us for a journey into the unknown, and for transformation. Our journey includes the ‘The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock’ with its exquisite depiction of the loneliness of young man, the post-war turmoil of ‘The Waste Land’, the spiritual struggle of poems like ‘Ash-Wednesday’ - and concludes with the lucent imagery of time and possibility in the ‘Four Quartets’; there may be no better preparation for the coming year.
Martha Kearney and Rory Stewart MP, ( and author of ‘The Places in Between’ – an account of a six thousand mile trek from Herat to Kabul ) discuss Rory’s unusual encounter with what Eliot regarded as the culmination of his achievement: the sequence he called the ‘Four Quartets’. Rory learned the entire poem whilst walking through Nepal. He explains why he also used language from the poem when he was campaigning in his constituency, and the importance to him of Eliot’s sense that ‘soil’ and roots matter, even in an poem about time and timelessness.
Jeremy Irons reads:
With contribution from writer and MP Rory Stewart