T.S. Eliot, The Elder Statesman, 1969

An oddly endearing metrical three-act play about a retired public man during what may be his final illness. We quickly come to suspect that he’s spent his life demanding the submission of all around him, and that he’s put his own comfort and advancement above any other prompting. Two “ghosts” appear: an ex-lover and a disgruntled former associate. Although both have done well for themselves, they’re intent on calling the statesman, Lord Carruthers, out for perceived injustices.

For those readers like me who are much fonder of Eliot’s poems than of his writing for theatre, the play may appeal on human grounds. A sense of expiation and redemption runs throughout, and it contains a moving dedication to Eliot’s second wife, Valerie.

7/7/22

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